CAMPAIGNERS are urging people to show compassion towards those who have lost someone due to alcohol or other drugs in an effort to reduce the stigma associated with alcohol-related deaths.

This comes as figures released today show that 1276 deaths were attributed to alcohol-specific causes last year, the highest number since 2008.

READ MORE: Scottish alcohol deaths at highest number since 2008

Monica Lennon MSP (below), convenor of Holyrood’s cross-party group on drug alcohol and misuse and supporter of the campaign, said that reducing stigma around substance abuse was “essential … to change the Scottish relationship with alcohol and other drugs.”

The National: Monica Lennon MSP speaking about late father during FMQs yesterday

The See Beyond - See The Lives campaign is run in Scotland by the University of Stirling, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), Scottish Families Affected By Alcohol and Drugs, and the Salvation Army.

The campaign aims to challenge the stereotypes that people often bring to the topic of substance abuse, whilst also highlighting that behind every life lost there are usually grieving families and friends.

People are urged to visit the See Beyond - See The Lives website, which features stories and videos recorded by the families and friends of loved ones who have died.

It also includes resources and advice for those harmed by substance use – whether for themselves or a family member or friend.

Site visitors are asked to commit to being respectful and compassionate towards those affected by substance use and to use non-judgmental language when talking about substance-use problems.

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Lennon said: “As someone who has experienced the complex and devastating impact of losing a loved one to alcohol, I am extremely proud to be backing the See Beyond – See the Lives campaign.

“Stigma is not only an unhelpful by-product of alcohol and other drug problems, but is also a significant barrier for people to seek help.

“If we want to save lives and change the Scottish relationship with alcohol and other drugs, reducing the stigma associated with substance use is essential.

“By sharing my story as part of this campaign, I hope to encourage other people to talk more about the effect of alcohol and other drug use on families and loved ones, and to consider the real people behind these deaths.”