News

New national facility for families affected by drug use

Published: 03 Aug 2021 16:20

Funding agreed in principle for specialist residential rehabilitation unit.

A new residential rehabilitation facility to support families affected by drug use is to be developed in North Ayrshire.

Funding for the National Specialist Residential Family Service which will be run by the charity and housing association Phoenix Futures and based in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire, has been agreed in principle. The facility will provide rehabilitation services for twenty families at any one time and will be based on an existing facility run by the organisation in Sheffield.

Once given final approval, funding for the development will be made available from the £100 million announced as part of the national mission to improve and increase the provision of residential rehabilitation.

Meanwhile following the publication of the latest drug-related death statistics, an urgent review has been ordered on the use of so-called street benzos after latest statistics showed the drugs were implicated in 73% of drug-related deaths in 2020.

Benzodiazepines are usually prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia however increasingly, illicit supplies of street benzos are being used with opiates such as methadone and heroin contributing to poly-drug use in Scotland.

The rapid evidence review will look at who is using the drugs and why in order that measures to reduce demand can be introduced. It follows work by the Drug Deaths Taskforce to develop guidelines on the consistent prescribing of benzodiazepines across the country so that people can be offered support for their drug use and any underlying mental health problems.

Other actions include:

  • commissioning research on the role and risks of methadone in drug related deaths
  • awareness campaign on the increasing availability of naloxone and its benefits
  • awareness campaign on stigma and its negative effect on people seeking treatment
  • consider whether alcohol and drugs services should be included in new National Care Service as part of the consultation
  • setting of a target for the number of people in treatment for 2022

Minister for Drugs Policy Angela Constance said:

“Once again, Scotland drug-related death statistics are a national disgrace and my heart goes out to all the families who have lost a loved one.

“We announced a national mission on this crisis in January and we have been taking a range of actions to tackle this national tragedy backed by an investment of £250 million over the next five years.

“Of that, £20 million each year is being spent on increasing capacity and improving access to residential rehabilitation and to that end, we have approved in principle an application for a development in North Ayrshire which will create a new national specialist service for families. It is vital that we make it easier for parents to access treatment by removing any barriers such as a lack of childcare and this project, run by Phoenix Futures will do exactly that.

“Though men are more likely to use and experience harms from drugs, there has been a disproportionate increase in drug related deaths among women and there is a strong link between women having children removed from their care and risk of drug related death.

“Poly-drug use – the use of more than one drug at a time - is an increasing concern with benzos implicated in almost three quarters of deaths last year and I have asked for an urgent review of benzo use so we can fully address the rise in popularity of this type of drug and reduce the demand.

“To tackle the number of drug deaths in this country we must increase the number of people in treatment and we will shortly be announcing a target so we can measure the impact of the introduction of the Medication-Assisted Treatment standards. These include the roll-out of same-day support services for anyone asking for help.

“We know there is much work to do and that the investment we are making must reach those directly affected by drug use and I am absolutely determined to make every penny count.”

Phoenix Futures Director of Operations CJ Williams said:

“The Scottish Government’s Residential Rehabilitation Rapid Capacity Programme (Recovery Fund) announcement that it has agreed in principle to fund a National Specialist Residential Family Service in Scotland has been well received by all at Phoenix Futures Scotland.

“There is a clear and defined need for a service that supports families to stay together in a safe residential setting. Phoenix Futures have decades of experience of providing services for families to draw from in establishing and operating this new project.

“The Specialist Family Service will create fairer access to residential rehab for the whole family, and is a welcomed start to the commitment of investment from The Scottish Government as part of its mission to reduce drug related deaths and harms.

“We look forward to working with all involved to open Scotland’s National Specialist Residential Family service.”