Source: The Scotsman 
Pubdate: Tue, 2 Dec 1997
Author: Frank Urquhart


Councillor's Daughter Is The Latest Victim Of A Heroin 'Epidemic' That Is
Crossing Social Boundaries In Aberdeen 

THE daughter of an Aberdeenshire councillor has become the latest victim of
the northeast's spiralling epidemic of hard drug abuse. The body of
18yearold Vicky Nash was found yesterday morning at a hostel in Aberdeen
where she had been staying. She is believed to have died as the result of a
heroin overdose. 

Her mother, Mairi Nash, the Liberal Democrat councillor for Portlethen, was
being comforted by relatives and friends at her home in the village last
night and was too upset to talk about the tragedy. Vicky was the eldest of
her three daughters. 

The incident has brought the death toll for the year in the Grampian police
force area to only two short of last year's record of 30 drug related

Miss Nash is the second young person to have died from a suspected heroin
overdose within four days. James Wiggins, 24, of Morrison Drive, Garthdee,
Aberdeen, was found dead in the toilet of the city's trades council club
last Friday. 

Rhona Kemp, a fellow Liberal Democrat councillor and chairman of the
Aberdeenshire Drugs Action Team, said last night that Vicky's death had
brought home to the council the human cost of the escalating problem of
drug abuse in the area. 

She said: "It is one of these tragedies that you think is never going to
happen to people you know, but when it does it really brings it home to folk. 

"I have become more inured to the drug problem because of the work I have
been doing, but for many of my colleagues Vicky's death has been absolutely
devastating. It is a tragic waste of a young life." 

Mrs Kemp said the tragedy had only strengthened her resolve to find a
solution to the scourge of heroin. "Heroin abuse is not just an Aberdeen
problem but is there in the towns and villages of Aberdeenshire. 

"We really need to find ways of getting help into rural areas for people
who have this problem, which we don't have at present." 

John Hiscox, a consultant at the accident and emergency unit at Aberdeen
Royal Infirmary, said that heroin had no respect for social class and was
no longer a drug confined to deprived inner city areas. 

He said: "The situation is horrific. We are seeing more and more middle
class parents coming into the hospital where their children have been
admitted with overdoses, trying to understand why their daughter or son has
become involved with heroin. 

"It is heartbreaking and I don't understand why the problem has become so
bad as it is. It may be that Grampian has been particularly targeted by
dealers because of the perceived wealth in the area." 

Mr Hiscox added: "Each time a young person injects heroin into their body
they are dicing with death. They don't know what they are buying and they
aren't able to measure the pharmacological effects. It's not like buying
aspirin over the counter where the strength is printed on the side of the

Miss Nash's death is one of three suspected heroin overdoses which are
being investigated by Grampian police. 

Twelve of the 25 confirmed drug related deaths in Grampian this year have
already been attributed to heroin overdoses. A further five deaths were due
to overdoses of the heroin substitute methadone, one to diconal and another
six deaths were due to a cocktail of drugs in which heroin was often a
major factor. 

The heroin death toll in 1997 is in sharp contrast to the fatalities last
year when the vast majority of drug related deaths in the north east were
due to methadone poisoning. 

This year, however, many batches of heroin have been deliberately sold on
the street by drug gangs at above average purity in order to boost the
demand from addicts in Aberdeen, the socalled "smack capital" of Scotland. 

Some of the heroin circulating in the city is believed to be up to five
times the purity of normal streetlevel deals. 

Grampian already has the highest number of registered drug addicts per head
of population of any police force area in Scotland with a total of 823
declared drug addicts registered with medical practices throughout the
area. That figure excludes 399 addicts who are already registered with the
Grampian drug problem service. 

Det Chief Insp Magnus Mowatt, the drugs liaison officer for Grampian
police, said there was growing concern about the number of drugrelated

He said: "It is a complex situation and it is too simplistic to say that it
is a particular bad batch of heroin which has killed so many. It depends on
so many other factors, including how recently they have taken heroin and
what their resistance is. But one of the possibilities is that heroin of a
greater strength hits the streets and people take it, not knowing what the
strength is." 

He explained that the force's overriding aim was to educate young people
about the dangers of drug taking as early as possible, targeting their
educational programmes towards the fiveto14 year age group. 

"The bottom line is that we will never know if our advice has gone unheeded
or not. A classic problem with policing is how do you ever know how much
you prevent something happening. But the success, hopefully, will be in the
long term," he added.