Improving alcohol and drug treatment

National strategy focuses on people’s needs and their families.

Scotland will help people with drug and alcohol addictions by treating wider problems such as housing and employment, and supporting their families.
The Scottish Government’s strategy for preventing and reducing drug and alcohol-related harm, Rights, Respect and Recovery, says Scotland will take a health approach to substance misuse and ensure services treat people as individuals.
This includes diverting drug users out of the criminal justice system where appropriate, and tackling people’s wider issues such as housing, employment and mental health. Families will also get support and be closely involved in their loved one’s treatment.

The strategy also emphasises education and early intervention for young people and those most at risk of becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Launching the strategy at Gowrie Care’s Cairn Centre in Dundee, Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:

“Improving how we support people harmed by drugs and alcohol is one of the hardest and most complex problems we face. But I am clear that the ill-health and deaths caused by substance misuse are avoidable and we must do everything we can to prevent them. This means treating people and all their complex needs, not just the addiction, tackling the inequalities and traumas behind substance misuse, and intervening early to prevent people at risk.

“We are supporting this strategy with an additional £20 million a year on top of our considerable existing investment in drug and alcohol treatment and prevention. We want to see innovative, evidence-based approaches, regardless of whether these make people uncomfortable. This money mustn’t just produce more of the same.”

Gowrie Care managing director Joy Dunlop said:

“I’m delighted to welcome Joe FitzPatrick MSP to our service to launch such an important strategy. Gowrie’s ethos encourages innovation so that services remain relevant and we continue to deliver meaningful outcomes for the people we support – key to this is ensuring the people we support are at the heart of everything we do.

“The Scottish Government’s investment is very much welcomed and will support the fantastic work that our staff and others in the sector do to support people in recovery.”


View the Rights, Respect and Recovery strategy in full.

It is challenging to reliably estimate the scale of problematic drug and alcohol use in Scotland. The most recent estimates find around 61,500 people aged 15-64 misuse opiates and/or benzodiazepines and about 4% of the adult population have possible alcohol dependency.

There were 934 drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2017, the highest on record.

Fewer people are using drugs and drinking alcohol and it has particularly fallen among young people. However, while problematic use of alcohol is falling across the whole population, it is increasing among older adults and there is an ageing population for whom drug use has become more harmful.

Working with a range of partners, the Scottish Government will produce an action plan for the strategy in early 2019.


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