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Better education needed to curb rise in drug-related deaths says Christian charity

Statistics from The National Records of Scotland have shown 1,187 people died from drugs in Scotland last year, which is an increase of 27 per cent since 2017.

These figures show the highest total since current records began in 1996.

Speaking to Premier Fiona Spargo-Mabbs, founder of The Daniel Spargo-Mabbs Foundation said there is not sufficient teaching on the risks of drug use within schools, which leads to children making bad decisions with devastating consequences.

Fiona set up the Christian charity to help young people make safer decisions about drugs, after losing her son to a drug overdose in 2014, when he unwittingly took a lethal dose of MDMA.

She said: "One of the things that we realised when Dan died was that a lot of schools really struggle and it's quite a specialist thing (to teach). It's a rapidly changing scene not just in terms of substances, but also in terms of how young people access them and the environments that they might be in.

"Drugs are around for our teenagers in a way that they didn't used to be and most schools really struggle to have good drug education. Without that armoury as information and understanding, it's very easy to make decisions that can go badly wrong."

Although many of the figures shown in the report refer to adults with long-term addictions, Fiona said it is vital to address the recreational use of drugs, particularly amongst young people before it leads to addiction.

Fiona said: "Most of the drug deaths in those Scottish figures are older people who had been struggling with dependency for a long time. But for them it was a start of a journey that didn't need to start and we just want to be doing everything we can to try and make sure nobody starts down that road."

Fiona said teenagers have a greater access to drugs and choose to experiment with them for many different reasons.

She believes that drug-related deaths are completely avoidable and the risks involved in drug experimentation must be communicated in schools through well-equipped drug education programmes and resources.

She said: "Drugs don't have the kind of stigma that they used to, and inevitably there's a curiosity but also just that fear off missing out. Also a worrying number of young people are using substances to help them cope with stress, anxiety, depression, all the mental health issues that we know so many young people are struggling with, and drugs are available and being used as a (not good) coping strategy for them."

Currently, drug education is not compulsory within UK schools and is only covered within GCSE Science.

Education on substance abuse will become statutory for school across the country from September 2020.

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