A MORAY COUNCILLOR is calling for tougher action on the causes of drug addiction and a softer and kinder approach to families struggling with addiction issues.
Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Sean Morton has written a thought-provoking article for leading online newspaper the Huffington Post, pointing out that there is not a single local community in Moray that is not affected in some way by drug issues.
“I’ve seen people have their loved-ones taken from them by the cruelty of drug addiction,” the Labour councillor said, adding: “And yet still Scotland’s approach to tackling addiction lags behind the evidence – still we fail those families and communities who have been ripped apart by drug addiction.”
As a councillor for a rural community, Mr Morton points out that it is not just cities who have a drug problem: “As a local Councillor, I know every little village in my ward has at least one family struggling to help a loved-one beat drugs.
“I have known too many people who have lost the fight. And what’s the political response? Tougher rhetoric. Harsher soundbites. More criticism. It’s all wrong – we need to be tougher on the causes of addiction and kinder on the families who are struggling.
“Many ordinary people have taken drugs. There is no point denying it, and there’s no point criminalising those who have done it once and been unaffected. But there are those who are taken in and become seriously addicted, these people are themselves victims of crime.”
The candidate for the Moray seat at the Scottish Elections this year added that as a first step, anyone found in possession of small quantities of drugs for the first time should be allowed a caution and referral for treatment rather than being taken to criminal court.
“It’s time we gave drug users the treatment their doctors say they need, not the punishment the Daily Mail says they deserve,” he added.
Councillor Morton is also calling for a new 24/7 helpline and online advice service that would give struggling families help in coping, saying: “People can find themselves in their hour of need at any time of the day or night. Nowhere is that more true than out here in the Highlands, where in the cold, dark nights like we have through winter, the right help can feel very far away indeed.”
Changes to the law that would be based on helping addiction rather than punishing it are among the proposals being put by Mr Morton, who observed: “Saying that someone who is found overdosing on drugs will be prosecuted severely is only making people terrified to step in – that costs Scottish lives. We can’t stand for that, and I won’t.”