Families affected by addiction have shared their stories as they fight to keep their loved ones alive.
Friday sees the release of the number of drug deaths in Scotland in 2020.
But the stories behind the figures paint a harsh picture.
The heartbreaking challenges faced by those affected by addiction bring a poignant reminder that behind every statistic is a person and a family under intense and unrelenting pressure.
Ahead of the announcement, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (Scottish Families) shared stories of people they support through their Holding On service.
The people who access this service have loved ones at high risk of drug related death.
The charity said those they support say ongoing service gaps and failures, especially where there are complex drug and mental health problems are an issue.
But support for family members in their own right can help reduce harm and risk for everyone.
‘They’ve given me strength’
Holding On has given a range of practical and emotional support to many as they deal with their complex situations.
Abbie’s* son had been using ‘street valium’, cocaine acid and alcohol for over two years.
His mental health problems mean he can be violent, aggressive, self-harm and ‘play’ with guns and knives.
Abbie admits she was scared of her own son, but also scared for him too because of his self-harming and threats of suicide.
She said: “I felt powerless, I felt like I was drowning and suffocating in the hell of addiction.
“Holding On has shown me how to gain control and power over my own life and most importantly, they have given me the strength and courage to carry on.
“I would not be where I am today without their support.”
Rose* needed support with her son’s addiction to heroin, cocaine, crack, ‘street valium’ and methadone.
He was being released from prison and she was worried that he would relapse.
He did and Rose gave him naloxone after she realised he was overdosing and dying.
She said: “The Holding On service is a lifeline for me and has given me the confidence and strength through some extremely difficult times.
“I can now cope in a more positive way for both myself and my loved one.
I am able to stay calm in moments of crisis and not let situations overwhelm me.
“Most importantly, I accept not everything is my responsibility to fix and I know how to detach from the pain and try to encourage him to take responsibility for his own life.”
‘Time has run out for one too many’
Justina Murray, CEO of Scottish Families, said: “We are sadly hearing the same stories about families’ desperate attempts to keep their loved ones alive.
“Whilst we welcome the millions of pounds of new funding to address drug harms, along with a raft of new initiatives, strategies and plans, the reality on the ground is that things still look and feel the same for families.
“We will only see change in the drug death figures when families tell us things have changed for the better.”
She added families cite a range of problems which make life even harder including:
- Lack of treatment and care options for loved ones.
- Judgemental services, near impossible to access and sustain.
- Lack of clear care and recovery plans.
- Exclusion from key decisions.
- Assumptions they will step into the breach when services fail.
She added: “Families are holding on to hope and holding on for change, but time has run out for too many.”
Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs is a national charity which supports anyone concerned about someone else’s alcohol or drug use in Scotland.
They give information and advice to many people and help them with confidence, communication, general wellbeing, and link them into local support.
They also help people recognise and understand the importance of looking after themselves.