Shetland’s remote but affluent island communities are facing up to the reality that, unlike the rest of Britain, rising numbers of young people are taking up heroin.
Three years ago, the 22,000 members of Shetland’s close-knit community – who inhabit a string of 15 islands isolated at the apex of the North Sea and North Atlantic, 150 miles northeast of mainland Scotland – faced an uncomfortable truth. Everyone had heard of heroin users from Glasgow and Edinburgh migrating to the remote Scottish isle. But the death of Megan Chapman, a 17-year-old who grew up in Lerwick, Shetland’s main town, was different. With the support of her parents she appeared to have shaken off her year-long battle against heroin addiction. Yet in July 2007, weeks before Megan was due to start a dream job working at a local stables, she died of a heroin overdose at a friend’s home.