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Last Updated: Monday, 17 December 2007, 18:04 GMT
'Addict rooms' call to cut deaths
Heroin needle
The injecting clinics have proved successful abroad
Special rooms where addicts can inject drugs should be considered as a way to cut deaths, according to a report.

The National Forum on Drug-related Deaths made a series of recommendations to ministers on how best to tackle the problem in Scotland.

Figures earlier this year showed there were 421 drug-related deaths in 2006 - up from 336 the previous year.

Last year's total also included 280 deaths that were later linked to drug abuse.

The forum's annual report highlighted injecting clinics for drug users which have been set up in Australia, Canada and Switzerland.

It stated that in one clinic in Vancouver none of the 500 overdoses that had occurred over a two-year period had resulted in a fatality.

'Suicide prevention'

The report added: "If a scheme is evaluated and has proved to be effective, we should think about trying it in Scotland."

As well as calling for consideration of injecting clinics, the forum also said a dedicated fund aimed at cutting drug-related deaths was needed.

The forum was established as a result of an action plan aimed at reducing drug-related deaths and is made up of representatives from the medical profession, police, prison service, ambulance service, government and academia, among others.

Methadone
Methadone and alcohol can be a dangerous combination

One of its main remits is to produce an annual report for Scottish ministers with recommendations for further action as required.

This first annual report produced by the organisation made a total of 10 recommendations, including a call for the Scottish Government to consider allocating money specifically for initiatives aimed at reducing drug deaths.

It wants ministers to consider extending a pilot scheme set up in Glasgow in February where drug users and their families were given the drug naloxone - which can be used to counter an overdose of drugs such as heroin.

The forum also wants suicide prevention in drug users to be made a key priority, pointing out that approximately 23% of drug-related deaths were either intentional or of undetermined intent.

A targeted, national information campaign to highlight dangerous combinations - such as methadone and alcohol - to drug users is also needed, according to the report.

SEE ALSO
Huge rise in Scottish drug deaths
30 Aug 07 |  Scotland
Heroin treatment at record levels
23 Jul 07 |  Scotland
Drug-related deaths soar in Fife
21 Jun 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Birth control call for methadone
11 May 06 |  Scotland
Addicts' children 'to come first'
08 May 06 |  Scotland
Drug tests for parents discussed
20 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Child concern over drugs problem
07 Mar 06 |  Scotland

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