Fewer addicts attending needle exchange clinics
THE number of drug users collecting syringes from NHS needle exchanges has fallen.
Around 234,000 people attended “injecting equipment provision outlets” during the 2010-11 financial year, down 11 per cent on the year before according to NHS data.
The exchanges were meant to cut diseases caught by sharing needles and the number of syringes discarded in public places.
The NHS said 4.51 million needles and syringes were distributed in 2010-11, down from 4.68 million the year before.
Over the data period, users at around half the needle exchanges injected opiates such as heroin, stimulants such as cocaine or amphetamine and muscle-building drugs such as steroids.
The NHS gave out more of other drugs paraphernalia such as spoons, used for “cooking up”, and filters, used for soaking up impurities, although distribution of citric acid, used to dissolve heroin, fell.
Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “While the latest statistics indicate a reducing trend of drug use amongst young people and adults, we know that problem drug use remains a significant problem to be addressed.”
She said Scotland’s provision of naxolone, to reduce the number of people suffering fatal drug overdoses, was “world leading”. In a report published in May, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommended to the UK government that naloxone should be made more widely available.
Scottish Tory health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “I appreciate the role dispensing needles plays in reducing diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. But at what point do we say we are simply making the activity of taking drugs far too easy?”
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