Scottish government promises recovery for drugs misusers

Person-centred care designed to help drug users recover and lead “healthy and meaningful” lives is at the heart of the first ever Scottish drugs strategy, published yesterday.

The Scottish government said the strategy, which is backed by £94m in ring-fenced funding over three years, would mark a significant change in the way services were commissioned and how practitioners engaged with users, with its emphasis on recovery.

It promised to set up a body at national level by this summer to help implement the recovery model locally and establish a new recovery-based performance framework by next April.

A drug recovery network will be set up to shift the culture of service providers and users towards recovery, while social care and health professionals will draw up individual recovery plans aimed at meeting the multiple needs of service users.

Greater support for children

The strategy also promised greater support for children and families affected by parental drug misuse, including training to improve identification of children, strengthening the focus of adult substance misuse services on the needs of children and increasing support for kinship carers.

Community safety minister Fergus Ewing said the vision was designed to free Scotland from “the grip of drugs” which has lasted for two decades.

“This strategy is about taking control of our lives again – as individuals and as a nation,” he said.

Shift welcomed

Professionals welcomed the shift in emphasis.

Tom Wood, retiring chairman of the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams, described it as bold, adding: “The policy is correct in viewing drug addiction as fundamentally a health issue.”

“Drugs have literally torn the heart out of some communities in parts of the country in the last 20 years. We’ve got to help people get back on their feet and make a full recovery. But it’s going to be a long, hard road.”

Ruth Stark, professional officer for the British Association of Social Workers in Scotland, welcomed the “inclusive approach”, but said the impact of of custodial sentences for drug-using parents on children needed to be addressed.

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