As a Government, it is our national mission to improve lives and save lives. We know that more than half of people at risk of drug-related death are not making use of drug services. This must change. Across Government and our public services we will do things differently, better and faster to support and save the lives of those with problem drug use. This life-saving work cannot be done by Government alone or just by any one part of Government. What is needed is genuine partnership-working within Government and across Parliament, with people with lived experience and families at its heart, working with services in all sectors.
Residential rehabilitation is one part of the solution to the challenges we face. I am grateful to Dr David McCartney and the membership of the Residential Rehabilitation Working Group Report for their time and commitment towards producing recommendations for improvement and change. I am also grateful to our service providers for helping us to establish a national estimate of number of beds and services provided by drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities. This was the first time this exercise was done and it will be invaluable to how we plan the way ahead.
This report raises a number of questions which we need to do more on. We must overcome the divide that sometimes exists in public debate, between harm reduction and recovery - because both are vital to making sure we have a range of services for different people with different needs and also their children and families. We must improve pathways into drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation - this must include looking at how an individual accesses treatment; professional support; funding arrangements; the impact of waiting times; importance of aftercare; and the role of family support. And we must support services to look after people after residential rehabilitation - we know that this is one of the times where people are most risk and so it's something we need to do more on.
We have already begun to make progress in some areas. I'm particularly pleased that a good practice guide on pathways into and out of residential rehabilitation is already underway through a sub group of the Residential Rehabilitation Working Group; we continue to see referrals through our prison to residential rehabilitation pathway; and Scottish Recovery Consortium, through Scottish Government allocated funding, are leading a test of change to help people most at risk following near fatal overdose to access residential rehabilitation treatment services and save lives.
As we move forward on these recommendations I will continue to be guided every step of the way by the lived experience of people whose lives have been touched by drug use and the front line services who support people.
Angela Constance MSP
Minister for Drug Policy