A RECOVERED drug addict is calling on people to help rid the streets of deadly drugs destroying lives across Inverclyde.

Police Scotland has issued an official warning about lethal street diazepam - often referred to as Valium - which are being mixed with another drug named Fentalyn.

This toxic combination makes the tablets 10 times stronger than heroin.

It can lead to an increased risk of overdose and potentially death and a special bulletin has been sent to police in the area.

Jamie Conway, a former addict who nearly died after becoming hooked on heroin, says the local community needs to come together to stop the spread of such a devastating drugs.

The 36-year-old said: "It's a massive issue.

"When you look at the drug deaths last year, Inverclyde was close to or at the top of the chart.

"These Valium tablets that are going about the streets were present in a lot of those people."

Jamie, who helps out at Inverclyde Recovery Cafe, says the situation is very worrying as he's heard that people can purchase up to 1,000 fake Valium tablets for £100.

He said: "The only way to stop it is to find out who is making them and stop them coming in.

"Ever since people have been able to order things on the internet it's flooded into towns.

"When I was younger, batches would come in and the place was flooded for a period of three to six months and then it would die away.

"Today, it's totally different, they are available everywhere, all the time.

"It's like Russian roulette - users don't know if they are going to wake up the next day and it's sad to see."

Jamie used street Valium throughout his battle with addiction.

He said: "I didn't like myself too much and didn't like the things I was doing, the way I looked and the anxiety I felt in social situations was crippling.

"Drugs were a way of coping with that and a way of integrating with the people who were around me.

"In hindsight and through coming into recovery and identifying what was going on, I now realise why I was doing what I was doing.

"Of course it was destructive, it was a solution for what was going on at the time.

"That's important to realise, that people don't just use drugs for the sake of it, there's something that has happened that they are struggling with on a daily basis and they might not be able to identify that at any given point of time.

"When they come out the other side, they start to realise that and connect back to themselves.

"Using any substance over a long period of time is going to have a devastating effect on physical health.

"People don't eat, there is no nutrition in their daily lives and their bodies disintegrate long before their time, that tends to be what happens.

"Their mental health suffers as they are so apart from reality.

"It's very difficult to come back out of."

The 36-year-old is calling on the community to be aware of the current situation and to treat people in addiction with more compassion.

He said: "The stigma that is there is so destructive to addicts.

"They already feel very little about themselves then they know that the community feels even harder about them.

"But recovery is possible, I'm testament to that.

"There's support out there.

"I would urge anyone who is coming through this to go and speak to somebody at the drug and alcohol service.

"Be honest because this is your life that you're fighting for.

"It's important to show people what recovery can bring.

"Recovery is not just about the person, it's about the family and everyone around the community."

Jamie also feels that more money should be spent on trying to rehabilitate addicts rather than locking them up.

He said: "I think we should decriminalise drugs.

"I'm all for people paying the price for a crime but it costs thousands of pounds to keep a person in jail for a month.

"Why is that money spent there when it could be going towards rehab which can look at the problem that caused it all in the first place?"

For the past six years, Jamie has been helping recovering addicts through the Recovery Cafe.

He said: "It provides opportunities for people to learn how to connect with others in a social setting and discovering training and volunteering opportunities."

He hopes that by speaking out about street diazepam it will help to save lives.

Jamie said: "I would like to see these tablets off the streets."

* The Recovery Cafe is held in Crown Care Centre in Greenock on Wednesday and Friday evenings between 5pm and 8pm and on the last Friday of every month there is also a social evening from 6.30pm to 9.30pm.