The latest figures for drug-related deaths, released today, show a decrease of nine percent. This is a very welcome reduction and is evidence that the measures in place to support a very vulnerable population are having an effect. Every drug-related death is a tragedy for every family involved as the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Roseanna Cunningham, acknowledged in the release of the figures: ‘…behind each of these figures is a grieving family and first and foremost we must recognise we have lost 526 people to drug use. I want to offer my sincere sympathies for the lives lost.’ Scottish Families strongly support this statement and we all offer our sincere condolences to those families last year who suffered such a tragic loss.
The death of a family member from a drug/alcohol cause has devastating effects as this family member reports:
“My son died at age 28 from a heroin overdose, I can only describe it as the most devastating experience of our lives. The emotions run through your body and mind, disbelief, denial, anger, and a sense of failure, in that I mean that as parents we had failed to protect our child from harm.
The following weeks after is a harrowing time, it feels as though you are in limbo waiting for something to happen, you are unable to move forward as you have to wait for toxicology results and this in our case was 6 weeks, you are asked questions you feel unable to answer, all you really want to do is see your loved one and you are not allowed to, we understood why that was but your thoughts your grief just wants to be with your child.
We kept asking ourselves why this has happened, what had we done wrong the guilt was enormous, it was the first time I had seen my husband cry, and we cried together for the rest of that day.
We then have to wait for the body to be released, make the funeral arrangements and explain to the family what has happened, I remember thinking that people didn’t really understand what we had lost our child or that his death didn’t matter because of the nature of the loss. I still feel that way today that a drug death is unimportant in society’s eyes.”
As a society, we must do more to ensure that those affected by substance misuse, either as individuals or family members, are given adequate and appropriate support. It is crucial that Scotland’s leading-edge Naloxone programme that saves many important lives every year is expanded.
The focus of Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (Scottish Families) is to support families and communities affected by drug and alcohol misuse.