Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 12:53 UK

'New era' for anti-drugs strategy

heroin addict
The government plans to spend millions weaning addicts off drugs

The Scottish Government believes a new emphasis on recovery is required to stop the country's drug problem spiralling out of control.

It is to spend at least 94m over the next three years on weaning addicts off drugs, and helping them stay clean.

Health boards, prisons and schools are to be given extra resources, and the link between deprivation and drug abuse will be tackled.

Police powers to seize the profits of drug dealing will also be extended.

Scotland has one of the highest rates of drug addiction, per head of population, in Europe.

It is estimated drug abuse costs the economy 2.6bn every year, while there 421 drug-related deaths in 2006.

In the past there has not been enough focus on achieving positive outcomes for people with drug problems
Fergus Ewing
Community Safety Minister

The current strategy of placing heroin addicts on methadone programmes has been widely criticised as being ineffective in helping addicts become completely drug free.

Announcing the first national drug strategy since 1999, Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing stressed the "guiding purpose" of all drug treatment services would be helping addicts into recovery.

He unveiled a five-point plan, which includes:

  • Recognising that tackling problem drug use will only be done through effective policies on the economy, tackling poverty, and supporting families and children
  • A fresh approach to drugs education, including the provision of factual information on drugs to every household with parents or grandparents in Scotland
  • The tracking of investment in drug services and the outcomes they deliver
  • A commitment to strengthen existing powers to seize assets from drug dealers
  • A new approach to achieve better quality of drug treatment across all prisons

Mr Ewing defined recovery as being "the principle that more than just reducing risk and harm, services should support people to move on towards a drug-free life as active and contributing members of society".

He added: "In the past there has not been enough focus on achieving positive outcomes for people with drug problems.

"If we want a more successful Scotland, with opportunities for all to flourish, then tackling problem drug use is not something that we can either avoid or ignore.

"As a society we need to face up to Scotland's' drug problem."

But Mr Ewing said the strategy also aimed to prevent people becoming addicted to drugs in the first place.

Consistent treatment

He told MSPs the government planned to "sharpen up" drugs education in schools, and that a copy of the advice leaflet "Drugs - What Every Parent Should Know" would be given to every family in Scotland.

It is estimated that between 40,000 and 60,000 youngsters are affected by parental drug abuse.

Mr Ewing said this could have a "serious and damaging effect" on children, and added: "It is crucial that we tackle the complex problems that are faced by children living in these households."

But he stressed there would be "no let up" in enforcing drugs laws.

Mr Ewing said: "Tackling the supply of illegal drugs remains an essential part of our new strategy."

He told MSPs that the government wanted to strengthen existing powers to seize assets and cash from criminals, including drug dealers.

But he also pledged better quality and more consistent treatment for addicts in prisons, and promised to ensure addicts continue to receive drug treatment after their release.

He concluded: "Our strategy sets out a vision where fewer people start using drugs, where early intervention prevents and reduces the harm caused by drugs, where more people recover to make a positive contribution towards society and communities are stronger and safer places."

Government unveils drug strategy
29 May 08 |  Scotland
Scotland facing 'drugs Doomsday'
28 May 08 |  Scotland
Methadone costs 'could be 60m'
25 May 08 |  Scotland
Addicts 'not second-class people'
23 Mar 08 |  Scotland
Methadone paradise
17 Mar 08 |  Politics Show


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