Scottish Families Calls For Zero Drug Deaths Target As Families Struggle Hour By Hour to Keep Their Loved Ones Alive

Visit our ‘Hour by Hour with Holding On’ storytelling page.

Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (Scottish Families) is marking the release of the 2021 Drug Death Statistics on 28 July 2022 by sharing three family member stories. All are supported by our Holding On service which works with families at high risk of experiencing drug-related death.

‘Hour by Hour with Holding On’ reflects the level of complexity that comes with supporting a loved one with a drug problem. The stories reveal the severe and debilitating consequences that family members face through every aspect of their lives. This includes lack of sleep, financial issues, witnessing non-fatal overdoses, breakdown of relationships, unresolved trauma, physical and mental health issues, and more.

We are sharing three family stories today, but these echo the words of thousands of families across Scotland who are affected by a loved one’s drug use, including those whose loved ones have died in the past year.

The stories from ‘Hour by Hour with Holding On’ are distressing and concerning:

‘My son lives with me because I don’t want him to die in the street. I isolate myself from family and friends because my life is consumed by my son’s drug problem and the chaos it brings every day. I sometimes wish one of us would die because at least one of us would find some peace.’

But there is also hope when family members are supported and listened to:

‘I now attend a weekly group with other people in similar situations. I don’t feel so alone, and I feel stronger. My son is still using drugs and is not getting support but there are less arguments. … . I know moving forward I will be okay as I am no longer alone on this journey’

Justina Murray, CEO of Scottish Families, said:

“The ongoing drug death toll in Scotland is heart-breaking. Despite the expressions of sympathy and condolence over the years, and the growing collection of reports and strategies calling for urgent change, we continue to hear the same stories about families’ desperate attempts to keep their loved ones alive with little support or recognition.

We are calling for a zero target for drug-related deaths in Scotland, recognising that every single one of these deaths is preventable. Anything less than a zero target is an insult to the thousands of families who have lost loved ones over the years, and to those who continue to struggle hour by hour to keep their loved ones safe and alive.”

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