First Minster Nicola Sturgeon MSP has announced an additional £250 million, in the form of £50 million for each of the next five years, to improve and increase services for people affected by drug addiction.
Talks have taken place with people with lived experience, a range of organisations involved in dealing with drug users and the Drug Deaths Taskforce following the revelation in December that there were 1,264 drug related deaths in Scotland.
In a statement to Parliament, the First Minister said a national mission was needed to turn things around.
She outlined a number of areas where improvements will be made and a further £5 million was allocated for this financial year to ensure work starts immediately. These actions include:
• Substantially increasing the number of rehabilitation beds across Scotland
• Increasing the number of people receiving treatment for their addiction
• Reducing stigma
• Allocating money directly to Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, the third sector and grassroots organisations.
• Widening the distribution of naloxone
• Implementing new standards for medicine assisted treatment to ensure equitable services for all drug users
• Reassessing how overdose prevention facilities could be established, given UK policy, to which this is reserved.
The First Minister said:
“Anyone who loses their life as a result of drug addiction, is not just failed at the time of their death, in most cases, they will have been failed repeatedly throughout their whole life.
“I believe that if we have the will, we can and we will find the ways to stop this happening.
“Doing so requires a national mission to end what is currently a national disgrace.
“It is a reasonable criticism to say that this government should have done more earlier, and I accept that and am determined that we will provide this national mission with the leadership, focus, and resources that it needs.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“In 2019, there were 41 drug related deaths in North Ayrshire. Behind every number is a real person, who has endured real struggle, and often traumatised loved ones.
“The SNP Government, Drug Deaths Task Force, NHS workers, North Ayrshire Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, volunteers and many others are doing everything in their power not only to prevent people dying from drug overdoses, but to prevent addiction in the first place.
“I welcome this determination from the First Minister to tackle this important issue and the sustained new funding announced today.”