For too long public attitudes, political debate and government policy in Scotland failed to take full account of the real drivers of problem drug use. A drug problem is neither a lifestyle choice nor a personal failing; drug problems originate in a lack of support to parents, families and vulnerable young people; the failure of health and other services to engage people in need of support and in Scotland’s social, income and health inequalities that result from poverty.

Recently, a consensus has emerged that begins to recognise all this and address problem drug use and the harms caused by drug use as a public health issue.

Scotland needs a new drugs strategy that reflects this reality. Scotland’s new drugs strategy should provide a full response to our drug overdose deaths public health crisis, improve the overall quality of life of people with a drug problem and prevent problem drug use by supporting vulnerable young people and their families. This strategy needs to articulate with government poverty, equalities and other strategies.