I WRITE with the heaviest of hearts about Scotland's appalling drug deaths figures ("Scottish drugs death rate highest in Europe", The Herald, July 17), not as a member of the various committees and trusts upon which I serve, but as a concerned citizen with some experience over the years in the drug and alcohol sectors.We have got to make changes to our drug policy and practice and make them now.

I was a member of the Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs from 1990-2002, and of various government advisory bodies, and well remember the impact that our policy Drugs – Meeting the Challenge had on practice then. Similarly in the face of HIV/Aids the statutory and voluntary sectors pulled together with innovative, collaborative practice and some controversial decisions. They saved lives – we need to do this again.

The Westminster Government needs to wake up to this catastrophe, but so do we here in Scotland. We must look at international evidence on decriminalisation and medically-supported safer injecting. We have to provide therapeutic places and spaces to support the whole range of recovery. Certainly this is about resources and those which should be put in, not just to specialist programmes but support from housing, employment, education, criminal justice. A reading of the recently published Hard Edges Scotland Report about multiple severe disadvantage is instructive here. But as well as resources this is about will. The will to appreciate that those who have died are our fellow citizens, people whose losses are our losses.

This emergency has to be met by all of us, not left to statutory authorities and government, though they can no longer kick the can down the road.

My heart goes out to all those families whose experience is not statistics but pain and loss.

Come on Scotland, we have do do something radical for the sake of us all.

Joy Barlow MBE, Innerleithen.

YOU can always tell when the SNP is trying to pass the buck ("Demands for radical rethink as drug death toll rockets", The Herald, July 17). This extreme emergency was not handled, as it ought to be, by either our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, nor our Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, but by the virtually-unknown Public Health Minister, Joe Fitzpatrick. The problem has been created in Holyrood, not Westminster. Drug policy might be a reserved matter but policing, education and health are not. If a society has a major drug problem, these agencies ought to be at the forefront of tackling it.

Drug usage starts when people have little hope of a future. A poor education is not helping. There are far too many Scottish children being failed by the Curriculum for Excellence. The police seem unable to stem the tide of illegal drugs entering this country and misplaced zeal from the SNP in make smoking a near-criminal offence and artificially putting up the price of cheaper alcohol has led to drugs being affordable, easy to obtain and therefore the first choice. Decriminalising drug usage is already happening with sentences of less than 12 months being mooted as non-custodial and clean rooms will only encourage more uptake.

This is a home-grown disaster, otherwise other countries would have a far worse problem than Scotland. It is not Westminster that is broken, it is Holyrood.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow G77.

THE very sad news that Scotland is in the grip of a drug crisis results, sadly, in the usual shouty blame game and of course everyone has the solution which just so happens to be in the gift of their political opponents. Pathetic.

As always we need radical and innovative (favourite words of all spin doctors) solutions but which broadly means, of course, undeliverable anytime soon.

Surely the main question the Scottish Government needs to answer is why the rest of the UK has one-third of the equivalent drug deaths within the same UK legal frameworks.

Is it not opportune to immediately implement the policies and practices that already exist in the rest of the UK and reduce the deaths by a potential two-thirds? Sadly this opportunity is not even contemplated by our Government because it apparently does not play to its agenda. Time to grow up, drop the Westminster blame game and admit that others elsewhere in UK may, just may, have better policies and practises in regard of this crisis. The beauty of this is that it does not need protracted law changes to proceed. Sadiq Khan has already accepted that he can learn from Glasgow’s knife crime initiatives so why can’t we do same with our southern friends when it comes to drugs?

Maybe then the so-called radical and innovative solutions can have been properly analysed, discussed, agreed and implemented.

Ian McNair, Cellardyke.

MEMO to the arch-harm reduction lobby: Wake up and smell the coffee.

Just bums on seats whether in treatment or drug consumption rooms is only half a plan; indeed, this, implemented alone, borders on enabling ongoing addiction with its associated constant risk of overdose, which, up till now, you seem to have been rather good at; result: 1,187 drug deaths in 2018.

Try this: put at least equal emphasis on actually contracting with addiction support service users (they need to man-up, "catch a grip", and play their part too) towards actually supporting them from lives focused on addiction.

Philip Adams, Crosslee.

ONE thing is notably absent from all the pious commentary on the news that Scotland has pro-rata the highest rate of drug deaths of any country in Europe. Many are willing to blame Scotland’s SNP Government of 12 years, or the Tories in Westminster owing to ‘"austerity", or indeed a combination of the two. Very few are willing to view drug abuse as a moral problem.

This is all the more remarkable, for the same politicians and pundits moralise endlessly about equality and minorities; they are happy to rule on what humour is acceptable and what will cause you to lose your livelihood; they even feel qualified to tell you, who you should address as "sir" or as "madam". In short, they feel entitled to micro-manage the private and social lives of the rest of the us.

And yet they do not feel able to moralise about buying illegal mind-altering drugs of wildly varying strength, efficacy and impurity from violent criminals, acquiring a drug habit and maintaining it as a parasite on the rest of the community.

At the heart of Scotland’s drug problem is the moral failure of our equality-obsessed political and media class, who are wedded to the failed ideas of the Frankfurt school of social policy.

Otto Inglis, Edinburgh EH4.

Read more: Drug death rate in Scotland at record high