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Apps help drug users to get a fix; Addicts buy on social media.

Byline: SHARON LIPTROTT

Drug users in the region are turning to Facebook and phone apps to easily buy tablet forms of Valium and Xanax - a prescription antianxiety medication. And the change in the misuse of illegal substances could be behind an increase deaths related to drugs.

A record 22 deaths were recorded in 2017 across Dumfries and Galloway and last year's figures show 12 confirmed deaths, with another five possibly to be added to the total.

This would then equal the region's second highest drug death total.

A two week-long operation in February saw Police Scotland officers target dealers with heroin, cocaine and cannabis seized from 11 addresses, with eight people arrested.

However, officers also found around 1,000 tablets believed to be fake Diazepam (Valium) and Xanax (Alprazolam).

Every three months a review group of NHS doctors, support workers, police and prison services meet to discuss recent suspected drug deaths in the region.

Drugs misuse across the region was highlighted in a BBC One programme, Disclosure: These pills may kill you, on Monday night.

In it, Detective Chief Inspector Colin Birnie said: "In recent months we've probably taken out several thousand tablets which we suspect are Xanax.

"We've got intelligence that they were getting delivered in the postal system. We instigated the appropriate protocols and we took them out of the postal system."

The documentary revealed that while heroin and other opiates are still the major killer in Dumfries and Galloway, studies are now showing an increasing number of deaths involve other drugs.

It also cited a recent report by the region's NHS drug and alcohol group which says more people are accessing their services which is putting a strain on the pharmacy budget, while outreach workers report a 30 per cent drop in the number of needles handed out to addicts last year - suggesting fewer people injecting heroin.

And ot highlighted a NHS report saying there is "a significant increase of drugs being obtained via the internet."

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Publication:Dumfries and Galloway Standard (Dumfriesshire, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 1, 2019
Words:329
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