Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 14:10 UK

Alcohol and drug shake-up agreed

Drinker (generic)
Alcohol and drug misuse services are to have a shake-up

A shake-up of alcohol and drug treatment services has been agreed in a move aimed at improving addicts' lives.

The Scottish Government, the NHS and Cosla signed up to the changes which will see alcohol and drug partnerships in all 32 council areas.

Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing outlined the plan during a conference in Edinburgh.

The move comes a month after a critical review of some services by Audit Scotland.

The auditors said alcohol and drug misuse costs Scotland £5bn a year.

The SNP administration has already announced it will spend £120m over three years to try to tackle alcohol misuse.

The cost in terms of human misery is incalculable
Fergus Ewing
Minister for Community Safety

Mr Ewing said: "The publication of this new framework does represent a watershed, it represents a significant change in the way that alcohol and drug misuse will be tackled locally.

"It will clarify roles and responsibilities and I hope that we can come together and work more effectively in partnership to provide the best chance for those struggling with addiction to recover from it and live a full and rewarding life."

He told delegates at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre that a commission will oversee the implementation of the national drugs strategy.

A charitable trust, the Scottish Drugs Recovery Consortium, will be established to promote and assist the focus on recovery.

Investment in services was "money well spent", Mr Ewing said.

He said every £1 for treatment saved £9.50 for the public purse.

"The cost in terms of human misery is incalculable," Mr Ewing told the conference.

He added that the latest announcement would help deliver all the existing strategies.

"We have the strategy in place, and we have addressed the funding issues," he added.

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