Substance misuse services: delivery of psychological interventions

Strategy aimed at increasing access to support for people working to recover from problematic alcohol and drug use.


We are delighted to support this report and commend it to those with responsibility for commissioning services for some of our most vulnerable people. The report marks a significant contribution to improving our collective understanding of the value of psychological interventions to prevent and to treat mental health problems among people with problematic drug and alcohol use.

What the report demonstrates is that building capacity across health, social care and wider services to be psychologically informed can bring huge benefits, and can support early and effective interventions. There are excellent examples of dual diagnosis in Scotland, and some practice which is making a real difference. Our ambition is that there should be consistency in both access and the quality of such services.

The report will help inform the implementation of a number of the ambitions in our Mental Health Strategy. We want to see improved access to high quality, evidenced-based, specialist mental health care for those who have higher levels of need, as well as general health care for people with mental health problems. NHS Boards are working hard to reduce waiting times for access to psychological therapies for all ages and waiting time standards for drug and alcohol services continue to be met. The Scottish Government will continue to offer national support to NHS Boards working in this area, with a programme of improvement and learning from good practice.

This emphasis is also a key part of our drugs strategy “Road to Recovery” published in 2008, and is currently being refreshed. This report has been published under the auspices of the Partnership for Action on Drugs in Scotland, and has its roots in our work to improve quality and consistency, as well as promote innovative and imaginative models of service delivery to better support those with complex needs.

The report also contributes to the delivery of two specific Actions (27 and 28) in our Mental Health Strategy about improving referral and treatment arrangements for people with both problem substance use and mental health diagnosis (“dual diagnosis”). This report creates a platform through which we can develop the practice that we want to see, and supports commissioners, and front line services to be more aware of the range of interventions that might be possible.

In the last decade, mental health services have changed dramatically with excellent work from NHS, local authorities, and third sector organisations. Staff in all of these organisations, at all levels, make life-changing, and life-saving, interventions every day. The emphasis in the report on the psycho-social aspects of treatment will support continued change for the good, and provide hope of recovery for those struggling with problematic substance misuse. We want to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in producing the report.

Photo of Maureen Watt Minister for Mental Health

Maureen Watt
Minister for Mental Health

Photo of Aileen Campbell Minister for Public Health and Sport

Aileen Campbell
Minister for Public Health and Sport


Alcohol and Drug Delivery team:

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