Treatment target for people with problematic drug use

Aim to have more people accessing opioid treatments.

A national target will be introduced to ensure more people with problematic opiate drug use are accessing life-saving community treatments.  

There are currently around 29,500 people using Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST). Under the new target, announced today by Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance, the Scottish Government will aim to increase this to 32,000 by 1 April 2024. Almost 90% of all drug-related deaths in Scotland currently involve opiates. 

From April 2024 the treatment target will be expanded to cover all drugs and alcohol.

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance said:

“We know from a wealth of international evidence that Opioid Substitution Therapy treatment is effective, so increasing the number of people in treatment is central to our national mission on drug deaths.

“The drug deaths crisis is primarily an opiate one – almost 90% of deaths involve an opiate – which is why we are aiming to increase the number of people prescribed community-based Opioid Substitution Therapy treatment by 2,500 (in the region of 9%).

“Of course, we are clear that prescribed drug treatment is not, and cannot be, the only treatment option available. While the use of methadone remains a central component of the treatment for opioid dependency, we are also expanding support through our investment into residential rehabilitation and associated aftercare – we aim to increase the number of publicly funded placements by more than 300 per cent over the five years of the programme so that, by 2026, at least 1,000 people every year are publicly funded for their rehab placement. 

“We are also funding a range of grass roots community services to complement the Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) standards which will support everyone on their recovery journey.

“The treatment target will be expanded to cover all drugs and alcohol from April 2024 and I am confident these targets will have a significant impact on reducing the number of drug deaths in this country.

“We are investing a total of £250 million over the course of this Parliament in a range of different treatments and services in order that all those affected, and their families, can receive the support which is right for them when they need it.”

Scottish Drugs Forum CEO David Liddell said:

“We welcome the targets for the treatment of people with a drug problem being put in place by the Scottish Government. 

“The evidence shows that being in Opioid Substitution Therapy is protective against fatal overdose and therefore we desperately need to have more people in treatment and in OST if we are to reduce drug-related deaths in Scotland and deliver the National Mission. 

“These targets will help ensure that we concentrate efforts on getting as many people as possible receive the help they need over the long term and not only save but also improve people’s lives.”


Further information on the Treatment Target

Treatment for drug misuse - Scottish Public Health Observatory



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