A new report from a leading drug addiction recovery group has called on the Scottish Government to create a “recovery minister” position.
Favor Scotland is set to call for an increase of 35% funding for treatment services this Friday at the launch of a full report on immediate actions for tackling the drug deaths crisis.
The group recently launched its You Keep Talking, We Keep Dying campaign after 1,187 people died of drugs in Scotland last year. Sixty-six of those were in Dundee.
Annemarie Ward, CEO of Favor UK, said the drugs death crisis was being used as a “political football” between Westminster and Holyrood.
She said: “It’s been months since the news broke that Scotland has the highest number of drug-related deaths in Europe and we’re not seeing enough action.
“Our report will deliver a number of recommendations that the Scottish Government can take forward immediately.
“We are sick and tired of the drug deaths crisis being used as political football. We want to see action now before this appalling situation gets any worse.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it would consider the report and called for powers over drug legislation to be devolved.
She said: “We have been absolutely clear what Scotland faces in terms of drug-related deaths is an emergency.
“We have already taken – and will continue to take – bold action to address this crisis, including setting up a dedicated drug death task force to examine the main causes of drug deaths, promote action to improve the health outcomes for people who use drugs, and advise on further changes in practice, or in the law, which could help save lives.
“As outlined in our Programme for Government 2019-20, we have committed a further £20 million over two years to support the task force’s work and to ensure the provision and quality of drug and alcohol treatment services are further improved to meet the range of complex health and social care needs of those most at risk.”
Bob Doris, the SNP MSP for Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, said: “I am sure that the Scottish Government will want to consider the report carefully given it has been drafted by those with both expertise and lived experience of the issues we face.
“I have already made a call for a lived experience panel to be established and for the Scottish Parliament to reach a budget consensus on funding of recovery services.
“This key recommendation can hopefully allow political parties the space to explore common ground in budget discussions which will take place.”
The report is set to be published this Friday in Glasgow.