Peter Krykant's 'positive' talks with First Minister on Scotland's drug deaths crisis

A Maddiston activist held a “positive” meeting with Nicola Sturgeon in which she vowed to do her utmost to address Scotland’s drug deaths crisis.

By Jonathon Reilly
Friday, 8th January 2021, 4:45 pm

Peter Krykant spoke with the First Minister and new Minister for Drugs Policy Angela Constance yesterday (Thursday) to offer his own solutions to the problem.

The online conference was arranged in the wake of Scotland being confirmed as the world’s worst nation for drug deaths.

In December, statistics revealed the number of people who died as a result of drug abuse in Forth Valley reached its highest-ever level in 2019.

Sign up to our daily The Falkirk Herald Today newsletter

Peter Krykant, of Maddiston, modified a minibus into a facility where he says addicts can safely take drugs under supervision in the hope of preventing overdoses and blood-borne viruses among users. Picture: John Devlin.

Mr Krykant, a recovering heroin addict, has been leading a campaign to make overdose prevention centres legal in Scotland, however, he insists the most important step is ensuring users have access to treatment.

Detailing his conversation with Ms Sturgeon, he said: “It was a really positive meeting.

“She gave a personal commitment to do everything to tackle this terrible drug deaths rate we’re suffering throughout Scotland.

“We often forget it’s a problem throughout Scotland because the focus is normally on Glasgow and Dundee but you just need to look at Falkirk.

“There were five drug deaths in 2009. Forty-one people died from drugs in 2019. We have to remember these deaths are preventable.

“The phrase I repeated to the First Minister was we need to get more people into treatment – that’s the key preventative factor.”

Mr Krykant outlined to Ms Sturgeon why, he believes, Scotland has fallen behind when it comes to tackling drug deaths.

He explained: “The biggest developer in reducing drug deaths is getting people on to safe prescription medication and away from the tainted drug supply.

“At the moment it’s estimated under 40 per cent of people who have a drug problem in Scotland aren’t in any form of treatment. In England or Wales, over 60 per cent are in treatment.

“In Falkirk, Change Grow Live can assess drug users but can’t prescribe a substitute, such as opiate replacement therapy like methadone or benzodiazepines.

“In England, in somewhere like Birmingham, Change Grow Live can assess people with a heroin problem and prescribe to them a substitute.

“All we need to do is allow Change Grow Live to do what they do in England and give them a little bit more money.

“We’ve got an issue across Scotland with illicit street benzodiazepines. The NHS won’t prescribe benzodiazepines because they’re risk-averse.

“The therapeutic guideline for the whole UK is if somebody is going on to methadone, 60 to 120 millilitres is optimal. The NHS in Scotland starts everybody on 30mls.

“It takes less than half the time down south to get the optimal dose.”

Mr Krykant added: “One of the actions we spoke about was the legality of overdose prevention centres. That’s a matter for the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe.

“We’ve now got drug policy and legal experts saying there’s a route to do this without changing the outdated Misuse of Drugs Act.”

The Falkirk-born man is running for a seat in the Scottish Parliament to represent Falkirk East as an independent at the upcoming election.

Pushing for investment in areas such as the Braes, Grangemouth and Bo’ness will form a key part of his strategy.

Mr Krykant said: “Jobs and investment break the longer cycle of drug and alcohol problems.”

Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a subscription to our print newspaper to help fund our trusted, fact-checked journalism.