More drug users seek help

Figures have revealed that the number of drug users seeking help in the Borders has increased by 75 per cent in five years.

In 2011/12 a total of 222 new individuals were referred to specialist drug services in the area, up from 128 in 2006/07, according to NHS Scotland.

In the last financial year, over half of those getting help locally had been referred by healthcare services, with almost a third self-referring.

An NHS Borders spokeswoman said: “The main increase came between 06/07 and 07/08, but we’ve maintained similar numbers since. It’s very positive that people are continuing to access our services in order that we can provide the support they require.

“As well as the positive difference accessing a service can make to an individual and their families, there is evidence to show that it is cost effective to enable people into services.”

Almost 30 per cent of the 222 reported having mental health issues associated with drug use, while 28 per cent had physical health difficulties due to drug use.

Almost 70 per cent of those seeking help last year were users of illegal drugs, mainly heroin and cannabis.

And, of 150 who responded to a questionnaire, 16 per cent funded their drug use through crime, with 63 per cent using benefit money to buy drugs.