ADDICTION: LibDems reveal more than 850 babies born dependent  on substances in four years 

New figures revealed more than 850 babies born  dependent on substances since 2017.

By Bill Heaney

The scourge of Scotland’s deadly drugs problems is getting worse, not better as the SNP promised it would after sacking the Drugs MInister Joe Fitzpatrick and replacing him in the Cabinet with former prison officer Angela Constance.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton  MSP has today said that new funding is needed for drug and alcohol  services after new figures revealed more than 850 babies born  dependent on substances since 2017.

Statistics compiled by the Scottish Liberal Democrats  through freedom of information requests show that at least  856 babies were born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) – showing  signs of drug addiction because of their mother taking legal or  illegal drugs during pregnancy.

The health board reporting the most cases was Lothian with 434,  followed by Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which includes West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute,  with 143 and Grampian with 118.  NHS Western Isles did not report any cases. Fife and Shetland  responded that they were unable to provide the information.

The symptoms of NAS, caused by drugs passing from the mother to her  foetus’ blood stream during pregnancy, include uncontrollable  trembling, hyperactivity, blotchy skin and high-pitch crying.

Mr Cole-Hamilton, pictured right, said: “These figures are utterly heartbreaking. It is hard to think of a  worse possible start in life for a new-born baby to have to  endure.

“In 2016, the Scottish Government slashed funding to drug and  alcohol partnerships by more than 20%. Valuable local facilities shut  their doors and expertise was lost which has proved hard to  replace. 

“Scotland now has its highest ever number of drug-related deaths.  The Scottish Government has belatedly begun to repair that damage but  there is so much more to do.

“It is time for radical action, not just to help people struggling  with drug misuse today but for future generations too.

“That means investing in local services which are best placed to  intervene to stop lives from being lost and new lives starting  dependent on substances.

“Drug misuse should always be treated as a health issue, not a  criminal justice matter. Anything else will condemn many more children  to be born into these awful circumstances.”

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