An Aberdeen charity has praised the work of a group set up to reduce drug-related deaths as it marks its first anniversary.
The Drug Deaths Task Force was set up last June to help save lives following an increase in the number of drug users dying over the past five years.
It has since launched a new website to provide information to stakeholders, service providers, drug users and their families.
The group is also working on a new strategy to tackle stigma to encourage a more informed and compassionate approach to people who use substances.
It has recommended making additional naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opioids, more widely available.
In Aberdeen, Simon Pringle and Fraser Hoggan of Alcohol and Drugs Action Aberdeen are leading the project.
Fraser Hoggan, CEO of Alcohol and Drugs Action, said: “It’s a good link for ourselves in terms of generating ideas and getting feedback.
“We have had some staff and service users take part.
“Every area has its own particular issues but through us there can be a more concentrated approach and the opportunity for learning from other ideas and other places.
“There’s also been some funding linked to the task force for the local ADP.
“It helps share the learning a bit more – anything that helps us to focus our attention and do better is going to be helpful.”
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Public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick said: “This is not a problem with a quick solution and I know they have spent many hours gathering evidence about the true extent of this emergency and developing and implementing strategies to tackle it. This funding will enable it to act using what it has learned from individuals’ lived experiences.
“I’ve travelled all over the country meeting as many people who use drugs and service providers as possible and I have been told repeatedly that stigma is a real barrier to people accessing treatment.
“Stigma can come from many sources, but most damaging is self-stigma where people believe they are not worthy of support. It is costing lives every day in Scotland and I believe this new strategy will help us tackle what is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges we face.”
Alcohol and Drugs Action has continued to offer support during the past few months.
Members of the public can call its freephone helpline on 03333448355 and can also find further support services online via its website www.alcoholanddrugsaction.org.uk