The drugs time bomb is ticking

In Glasgow it is estimated that about 10,000 children are
directly affected by drug misuse while referrals for children
affected by alcohol and drug issues increased by 35 per cent last

Recently the Scottish executive launched guidance aimed at
ensuring agencies across health, social work and the voluntary
sector work together to provide more joined-up responses to adults
with drug and alcohol problems. Significantly it also refers to the
children who are directly affected. A time bomb is ticking in our
inner cities and as the second, and even third, generation of drug
addicts comes into view social care must focus on children growing
up with the despair of addiction.

The drive to offer treatment to drug offenders is welcome but
brings with it the requirement for treatment services to respond
accordingly. An effective response means more sophisticated
services that engage parents and improve their child care

In Scotland we face issues around the use of opiates and
poly-drug use as well as a strong injecting-culture. Nowhere is
this more evident than in Glasgow. The council’s own study
showed that there are about 15,800 drug users. The study showed,
not surprisingly, clear links to poverty and deprivation with 95
per cent of those with the most problematic drug use also living in
the areas of highest deprivation.

The Scottish executive estimates that Glasgow has around 25 per
cent of all drug misusers in Scotland. Yet the city only received
12 per cent of government funding. And it was only in the last
spending review that local authorities north of the border received
any specific funding from the Scottish executive for providing
services to addicts and their families. While Glasgow welcomed the
first allocation, the cash was awarded based on population and not
on need. This process fails to recognise the disproportionate
impact of drug and alcohol misuse on a major city.

If councils are to have any impact on drug misuse and the
accompanying cycle of crime and prostitution we must address the
wider family implications of addiction. If councils are to provide
effective treatment and rehabilitation programmes then government
must fund us accordingly. Drug and alcohol services for families
can no longer be viewed as peripheral. This would surely be the
recipe for a self-perpetuating sequence of poverty, exclusion and
addiction for years to come.

Iona Colvin is principal officer for addiction services
at Glasgow Council.

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