SCOTLAND’s drug death rate is by far the highest in Europe. It continues to break records year on year.

Everything from safe consumption rooms to full legalisation has been proposed to combat the issue.

But what role does education play in “Scotland’s national shame”?

That’s what a Scottish playwright is looking to explore in his upcoming production Bits N Pieces.

Nathan Scott-Dunn wrote, directed and starred in the acclaimed Fringe hit play 1902, where four young, working-class men sought to pay back a gangster the money they spent on buying tickets for the 2016 Hibs-Rangers final. Now the actor is turning his attention to the “stigma and misinformation” around drugs in Scotland and the wider UK.

The dark comedy will take a look at what happens to three young men who take drugs for the first time without proper education.

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He told The National: “I learned about this charity Crew2000, which is a safe drugs charity dedicated to helping people. Their motto is ‘we neither condone nor condemn drug use’ which I thought is a brilliant motto to have because I think that’s what the problem is.

“I think a lot of people view drug users as a certain type of people. A certain class, a certain type of person – and it’s not positive, it’s always negative. So I got in touch with them to see the work they did and they were so open. It’s them you see at festivals handing out testing kits for drugs, they offer a safe haven for people who need help and they give people the right information about drugs.”

Scott-Dunn then went on a training course with the charity which is usually reserved for professionals to be taught more about drugs.

“We got to go and sit in on one of these seminars,” he said. “And it was absolutely incredible the sort of stuff that people didn’t know, people who are helping people on drugs. They would ask what is the most harmful drug to society, and people would say crack cocaine, heroin and ecstasy. They’d then show them this graph and alcohol would be number one. Ecstasy was not even in the top 20.

“But these are the people who are supposed to know this stuff being educated on this.”

The Edinburgh actor said this event sparked an idea in his head and got him thinking about the sort of education he got about drugs.

He continued: “I think about my school drugs education and it’s nothing like what the world is about.

“We’d have a police officer come in and basically have a box full of model drugs, take them out and say this is a drug, this is a drug and this is a drug. He’d put them into three categories: uppers, downers, turn-your-head-arounders.

“And he basically said if you take any of these drugs, you’re going to die or you’re going to go to jail.

“So that is why this group is heavy on education and how it leads to drug stigma. If you put ecstasy and heroin in the same sentence, you might assume they are going to have the same effect and that they are as dangerous as each other.

“But young people get to the point where they inevitably try it – they find that isn’t the case. So instantly, they go, ‘I took this, I didn’t die, what next?’ And that is when it does become dangerous because they haven’t had the right information. If people are educated properly, less people will get hurt, less people will die.”

Scott-Dunn points to the famous and tragic death of Leah Betts, an 18-year-old from Essex who died after taking ecstasy and drinking seven litres of water.

Scott-Dunn said the news coverage at the time and the following drugs campaign took aim directly at drug misuse. But he says education at the time wasn’t good enough, and may have contributed to her death, as the teenager followed common advice at the time to consume more fluids while on ecstasy.

The actor says although that may be considered a drug-related death, it is also a casualty of the stigma and misinformation around drugs. Scott-Dunn aims to make this his most immersive show yet, following from the theatre-in-the-round style of his much-lauded 1902 play.

Bits N Pieces will debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer. Viewers can expect a live DJ, an energetic production and some disco for good measure.