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'Six members of my family lost their lives to drugs'

Natalie Logan McLean is hosting a memorial this weekend as Scotland faces a drugs crisis.

Natalie wants to reverse the trend of drugs deaths in Scotland.
Natalie wants to reverse the trend of drugs deaths in Scotland. STV

Natalie Logan McLean has lost six family members to drugs.

As recently as last Friday, her cousin died from a diazepam overdose.

Scotland is gripped in a drugs crisis, with more than 1200 deaths in the last year.

Natalie, a former addict herself, knows more than anyone the human cost behind the statistics.

The 39-year-old from Glasgow now works with prisoners to help them kick the habit.

And on Sunday night she will host an event expected to be attended by 400 people to remember those taken by drug addiction.

Here, in her own words, she tells STV News of the devastating impact drugs have had on her life.

"I'm now going to bury my sixth family member, immediate family members.

"It went from my dad, to my brother, then my aunt then my uncle, and now two cousins, one after the other. They were all good people destroyed by drugs.

"I don't want to say drugs were accepted, but because so many family members were on drugs we became very desensitised to addiction. I went down the same path of destruction as my family, I went down that same path, only there was something for me to get out of it.

"I have two children and I didn't want to become a statistic the way my father and my uncle and my aunt and my cousins have. I don't want to be remembered as 'Natalie with the drug-related death'.

"These figures are not new, these numbers have been increasing for years.

"All the big organisations know about it because I've sat round tables discussing it with them.

"So this is no surprise to me. And again I've probably become very desensitised by the increase in the drug-related deaths but when it falls at your front doorstep it becomes very relevant.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1439313-drug-deaths-the-implant-that-blocks-heroin-in-its-path/ | default

"When you can no longer count the family members that have died on one hand that's when, as a family member, you have to stand up and say 'OK, this is not acceptable'.

"This should not be a taboo subject. Why are people stigmatising society, why are we not working together?

"Because the bottom line is taxpayers are paying for individuals to seek treatment, so why not be involved in a better treatment plan rather than point the finger and judge and call people junkies.

"This is someone's son and daughter. Why not have love, compassion and empathy.

"Every seven hours and 12 minutes in Scotland someone dies of a drugs-related death and I just hope in those seven hours and 12 minutes, it never falls on their doorstep of the ones pointing their fingers because it's the most heartbreaking thing that you'll ever have to do.

"Half of our family couldn't even have open coffins because they've lain dead for days and they became unrecognisable. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. I just don't know why Scotland doesn't stand together.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1439359-drugs-crisis-decriminalisation-means-i-don-t-have-to-hide/ | default

"Sunday's about getting family members together, we don't want to protest anything. We're in pain.

"We don't want to point fingers, blame politicians or any councillors. We want to stand together and mourn the family members that are lost.

"While everyone stands and criticises me I'm actually left broken-hearted because I've not yet buried the sixth family member to a drug-related death.

"On Sunday night at 10pm we want to have candles, we want to have balloons we want to have family members stand up and shout out their son or daughter's name.

"I still have family members caught up in addiction, that's the sad thing. So it doesn't matter that Natalie's out promoting recovery for everyone that will listen and anyone that needs a hand.

"The reality is that I've got family members that are still caught up in active addiction that we could get a phone call tomorrow to say there's someone else that's dead.

"That's heartbreaking. And I'm powerless over that."

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