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MSP in poignant plea to end stigmatisation of addiction

Monica Lennon spoke about her father's deadly struggle with alcohol during FMQs.

Monica Lennon: Nicola Sturgeon praised the MSP's courage to speak about the issue.
Monica Lennon: Nicola Sturgeon praised the MSP's courage to speak about the issue. PA

An MSP has opened up about her father's deadly struggle with alcohol addiction and called for an end to the stigmatisation of sufferers.

Labour's Monica Lennon, whose father died two years ago, fought back tears at Holyrood while raising the issue at First Minister's Questions.

Last year, a total of 1265 people died from an alcohol-related illness, a rise of 10% compared to the previous year.

Lennon told the chamber: "Living with addiction is not easy to speak about but this has to change as recovery and support services can't help people if they feel too ashamed to access them.

"Too often, families only break their silence about drug or alcohol harm after they have buried their loved ones. I know because two years ago my dad died as a result of alcohol harm."

She added: "In 2016, Scotland reached an unacceptable ten-year peak, with 2132 people dying as a result of alcohol and drugs misuse.

"We have a long way to go. Can I ask the First Minister to join me in sending a message to everyone in Scotland affected by drug or alcohol harm, that they matter, they they are not to blame and that they are deserving of support."

The First Minister heralded Lennon's "courage" to speak on the matter and said she was "absolutely right".

The SNP leader added: "We must make sure, and this is why we have set out plans for additional funding, that when people do find the courage to come forward and seek help that help is there for them."

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