Response to Drug Deaths Taskforce report

Cross-government action plan backed by £68 million.

More than 80 actions supported by £68 million over the course of this parliament are outlined in the Scottish Government’s response to Changing Lives, the final report from the Drug Deaths Taskforce. 

Measures are being taken across a broad range of areas including employment, justice, transport, education and health and social care to improve the lives of those affected by drugs.

The response is underpinned by two principles – that services treat problem drug use the same as any other health condition and that people with lived experience are involved in policy decisions.

Many of the 20 recommendations and 139 action points made by the Taskforce are already being addressed but new announcements include:

  • £30 million ringfenced from the Enhanced Services Allocation to NHS territorial Boards from April 2023 to support specific drug treatment services within primary care settings 
  • £18 million to develop stabilisation and crisis care services, in addition to the £100 million already available for residential rehabilitation
  • £4.3 million for a Stigma Action Plan which includes an accreditation scheme for organisations to improve awareness and challenge stigma across public life
  • £5.5 million for new programmes for children and families including the expansion of Routes, a young person’s support group run by Scottish Families Affected By Drugs
  • £3.4 million additional funding to deliver a workforce action plan and expand the Addiction Workers Training Programme run by the Scottish Drugs Forum and an additional £3.3 million to expand trauma training
  • £2.4 million to improve care for people with co-occurring mental health and substance use conditions to build on the recommendations set out in the recent rapid review
  • £0.5 million for an initial pilot to expand the concessionary travel scheme to include people with a substance dependency

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance said:

“Every drug death is a tragedy and unacceptable. We continue to face a public health emergency and cannot underestimate the scale of this crisis.

“The Drug Deaths Taskforce was formed to provide independent expert advice on our response to this emergency and this cross-government action plan includes a broad range of initiatives which will not only support the complex needs of people who use drugs but also help support prevention and early intervention.

“This publication outlines our whole government commitment to addressing this challenge and ensuring that people with problem substance use can access all the services they need and are entitled to. 

“I thank the Taskforce members, past and present, for their important contribution. The final report, Changing Lives, has provided us with clear, evidenced recommendations and our response outlines a new, even more ambitious, phase of our mission to save and improve lives.”


The plan is supported by a total of £68 million over the course of this Parliament.

Funding of £38 million will be made available through alcohol and drug policy budgets - this includes an additional £12 million outlined in the 2023-24 budget. These new commitments will ensure the Scottish Government invests £250 million on the National Mission over the course of the parliament. In addition £10 million per year (totalling £30 million) will be ringfenced from the Enhanced Services Allocation to NHS territorial Boards to support the primary care response to the drugs crisis.

Enhanced Services are services over and above the standard GP contract which GP practices can decide whether or not to take. The terms of Directed Enhanced Services are set by the Scottish Government which then directs Health Boards to offer them to GP practices. Health Boards and GP practices may also locally agree other Enhanced Services to meet particular needs in their area.

Drugs Deaths Taskforce Report: A Cross Government Approach    


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