Tenth of city drug addicts manage to hold down job

The crew website lets drug users who visit assess their 'risk score'
The crew website lets drug users who visit assess their 'risk score'
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ONE in ten drug addicts in Edinburgh who seek support from health services are holding down jobs, new figures reveal today.

The figures, collated by the Scottish Drugs Misuse Database and published by the Scottish Government, show that nine per cent of people who seek help for a drug habit are employed.

And drug charities said that many of these are reluctant to attend mainstream services due to the “stigma” involved.

The reluctance of workers with substance issues to seek support has prompted city-based drug charity Crew to set up a new website. The site, www.mycrew.org.uk, went live on Friday, and is aimed at reaching drug users who would not normally access traditional health services.

The charity also plans to launch a smartphone app version to provide further help.

Laura Dey, Crew online support coordinator, said: “We’ve found that a lot of people using stimulant drugs like cocaine, cannabis or legal highs are more reluctant to access mainstream drug services. Many will be holding down jobs, with a life going on as normal.”

The website allows users to fill in a questionnaire and receive a “risk score”. Ms Dey said: “The risk assessment questionnaire is eight multiple choice questions about the effects that their drug use might have. It covers areas such as their health, mood and finances.”

Meanwhile, the figures also revealed that one in three drug addicts in Edinburgh who seek help from health services fund their habit through crime – a higher proportion than in 
Glasgow.

The figure placed the Capital third out of 32 local authority areas in Scotland for addicts turning to crime. The study showed that 70 per cent of drug users seeking help were using benefits as an income source for drugs. Others cited borrowing and prostitution.

Lothians Tory MSP Gavin Brown said: “If these punishments were to be stiffened, it would at least make the money for drugs harder to come by, and make Edinburgh’s streets safer as a result.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said officers in the city were committed to “removing the scourge of drugs”. He added that “officers also work closely with partner agencies, including health and social work, to offer offenders advice and support for rehabilitation”.

alan.mcewen@edinburghnews.com