Case study: The misuse of drugs

A variety of different drugs and substances
A variety of different drugs and substances

The Scottish Government estimates that 40-60,000 children may be affected by parental drug misuse. Immediate effects include children being at risk of neglect and of emotional and physical abuse. Long-term risks also include poor physical and mental health.

Growing up in a household where parents are using drugs and alcohol can seriously affect the life chances of the child.

Many young people from all social backgrounds and parts of the country experiment and take drugs including tobacco, alcohol and cannabis for a variety of reasons.

The key factors determining whether people experiment with drugs appear to be early years experiences, family relationships and circumstances, as well as parental attitudes and behaviours.

The Misuse of Drugs Act

The Misuse of Drugs Act states a number of offences including: -

  • the possession of a controlled substance unlawfully with or without intent to supply it
  • the supply or offer to supply a controlled drug
  • allowing premises you occupy or manage to be used for the purposes of drug taking

Class A, B and C are controlled substances, with Class A considered to be the most harmful and serious.

Drug classification and penalties
ClassesDrugsPenalties for dealing in drugsPenalties for possession of drugs
Class AEcstasy, LSD, heroin, cocaine, crack, magic mushrooms, amphetamines (if prepared for injection)Up to life in prison or an unlimited fine or bothUp to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine or both
Class BAmphetamines, methylphenidate (Ritalin), pholcodine, cannabis, ketamine Up to 14 years in prison or an unlimited fine or bothUp to five years in prison or an unlimited fine or both
Class CTranquilisers, some painkillers, gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB)Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or bothUp to two years in prison or an unlimited fine or both

The Police Service of Scotland has special powers to stop, detain and search people under the reasonable suspicion that they are in possession of a controlled drug. Scotland's only Drug Court is based in Glasgow. It targets those with serious, long-term drug problems to help them recover from addiction and rebuild their lives.

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