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Craig’s Story (Part 3) (told by his brother Stewart)

Craig and Stewart

Trying to advocate for change

At this time, I’m still not exactly sure what happened to Craig. Families of loved ones who have died of suspected overdoses are now waiting up to 6 months for toxicology results to be returned; this wait is agony. However, based on witnesses that were with Craig the night/morning he passed away, and after what I came across when I cleaned the house out, it appears that Craig died through an accidental overdose.  Craig was easily able to order benzodiazepines online and did so to help him to cope with his social anxiety and childhood trauma. This is part of the problem, as the NHS were not able to properly prescribe Craig the right medication or offer him early intervention to deal with his problems.

It’s quite clear that the criminal justice system does not work for people addicted to drugs. It’s even more clear that early intervention and the right treatment is a more effective strategy for holistically addressing the many issues that people who are addicted to drugs face on a daily basis. Treatment isn’t necessarily a facility that you have to spend x number of days at, treatment can be safe drug consumption sites, better and more frequent access to counsellors and other health professionals, a prescription plan for benzodiazepines, social activity prescribing, and easier family involvement. Treatment is whatever the individual feels might meet their needs at wherever they are on their path to recovery or their path to functioning the best they can with their addiction.

It’s tough to watch your brother go from an innocent child who is with you every step of the way through a challenging childhood, to an adult in desperate need of help from others. To feel like he’s not valued, appreciated or able to fit in to what is considered socially acceptable in society. Craig didn’t choose this lifestyle and was one of the many unfortunate ones to come across substance use to try and mask his underlying and ongoing issues. There is a long way to go to end the stigma associated with addictions and mental health issues, but I urge you not to judge a person by how they appear on the outside. Instead think about ways to make those that have been marginalised and who are vulnerable feel valued, welcomed and part of a community.

As part of my ongoing attempt to end the stigma associated with addictions and mental health issues, I’ve had a few articles published in the Dumfries & Galloway local papers and I’m currently working with a BBC journalist that is in the process of filming a short article about the struggle that Craig and his partner had to endure and the ongoing issues with drug misuse in Scotland. There is so much shame associated with drug use that it’s easy to want to just hide the truth away, however; the more we talk about these issues and the more exposure it gets, the greater the impact it will have on society.

In Scotland, in 2018, 1,187 people died of drug related deaths. It’s abundantly clear that current addiction and mental health issues are not effective, leaving families torn apart across the country.