The publication of the Scottish Government's national drug strategy, The Road to Recovery, in 2008 marked the beginning of a recovery-focussed approach to tackling Scotland's drug problem. This was followed in 2009 by the Alcohol Framework: Changing Scotland's Relationship with Alcohol which introduced a whole population approach to tackle Scotland's relationship with alcohol. These two strategies were enhanced by the Quality Alcohol Treatment and Support report in 2011 which called for a person-centred, recovery-focussed approach in the delivery of alcohol treatment and support services, building on the guidance contained within Essential Care: a report on the approach required to maximise opportunity for recovery from problem substance use in Scotland.
An early step in enabling people to recover is providing them with timely access to treatment. In light of this, and in recognition of the fact that in some parts of Scotland people were waiting too long for specialist treatment, the Scottish Government introduced an NHS HEAT waiting times target for drug treatment services in 2009 which was enhanced by the inclusion of alcohol treatment services in 2011:
By March 2013, 90% of clients will wait no longer than three weeks from referral received to appropriate drug treatment that supports their recovery.
In March 2013 the HEAT target was exceeded at a national level and in April 2013 it was established as a HEAT standard. Following the success of achieving faster access to drug and alcohol treatment services the Scottish Government is focussing on sustaining this performance and evidencing improvements in the quality of drug and alcohol treatment and support services in Scotland.
Email: Hilary Smith