DR GERALD Edwards (Letters, July 18) is at it again, the usual SNP bad theme; next he will be blaming it for the weather. According to him the relatively recent SNP public health initiatives to reduce the proven harm caused by smoking and alcohol abuse are the major cause behind a switch to illegal drugs hence the increased mortality rate among addicts. That assertion is difficult to reconcile with the fact that the bulk of the deaths due to heroin abuse are happening to addicts from their late thirties and well into middle age; these addicts developed the habit long before the SNP could influence the turn of events. Anyone sitting in a dispensing pharmacy for any period of time witnessing the steady stream of addicts getting their daily methadone shot will be aware of the age group involved. Recent statistics suggest that illegally-sourced benzodiazepines and other synthetic non-opioid analgesics may soon surpass heroin as the major killer.

The reality is that people use drugs to escape from reality either temporarily or permanently and that poor-quality control due to the illegality of the substances they use is probably a factor in the increase in unintended death rates due to substance abuse. If the SNP is in any way at fault it lies in not accepting the reality of the situation and de-criminalising the process. What we need is to destigmatise the use of drugs and bring the drug trade into the light thus allowing quality control of the products; the benefits of that should be self-evident.

David J Crawford, Glasgow G12.