National Mission to tackle drug-related deaths
We have faced a growing numbers of drug-related deaths in recent years (including during the pandemic), in response, the First Minister announced in January our new national mission to tackle drug deaths. This will be supported by investment of £250 million over 5 years.
From the start of the pandemic we have worked to ensure continued support for those who need it.This has included moving away from single day supply, and the requirement for supervision for Opiate Substitution Treatment, which has relieved pressure on pharmacies and reduced stigma for those having to queue for treatment.Outreach services have also been increased, including the delivery of injecting provision and naloxone; along with video appointments to provide psychosocial support and to check on people's health and wellbeing.We will seek to build on these innovative approaches, while continuing to improve how we provide alcohol and drug services in the future.
Central to this transformation will be the implementation of new Medication Assisted Treatment Standards, published in May 2021.We will work with healthcare services to ensure same-day treatment for people seeking support for problematic drug use, and put in place a much wider range of treatment options than was available before the pandemic.These options include long-acting buprenorphine as an alternative to methadone, and heroin-assisted treatment.
We will also work with boards to ensure there is effective outreach in place – to provide support to people where they are, and to get more people into the protection of alcohol and drug treatment.New treatments will be required to stem the impact other drugs such as illicit benzodiazepines and cocaine are having on drug-related deaths.
Significant improvements are required on the provision of residential rehabilitation as a recovery option for people with problematic substance use.These changes in the way our systems – mental health, primary care and specialist services - provide support to some of the most marginalised people in our communities will be a key part of NHS recovery.