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New drug strategy impact assessed

2 October 09 10:06 GMT

An independent commission has been set up to investigate whether the Scottish government's new drugs strategy is having an impact.

Ministers announced 18 months ago they intended to replace the controversial heroin-substitute methadone programme with a recovery plan.

This strategy aimed to ensure addicts remained drug-free.

The commission has said it hopes to report its findings to the government within the next eight months.

The overall aim of the inquiry is to examine Scotland's long standing drug problems and the associated health, social, cultural and moral issues and to provide proposals, based upon that research and evidence.

There are currently 52,000 registered heroin addicts and 22,000 methadone users living in Scotland.

Methadone is used as a substitute for heroin, and is intended to stabilise the lives of drug addicts.

But it is a huge and controversial programme. This has been recognised by the Reverend John Matthews who is chairing the independent inquiry into the way the government's drug policy is being operated.

He said: "When I was first approached to chair this independent enquiry into maximising recovery from dependent drug use in Scotland I agreed on condition that we consulted thoroughly and genuinely with users, recovering users, their families and carers and the communities they come from.

"That the terms of reference explore the routes into as well as the routes out of drug misuse; and that the Scottish Government were aware of the inquiry and interested in its findings."

The University of Glasgow has received funding from Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland and Big Lottery Fund to carry out the independent inquiry which aims to benefit the lives of people who misuse drugs.

Mary Craig, Chief Executive of Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland, said: "We are delighted to be supporting this work, which aims to make life better for the many people, families and communities that are affected by drug misuse across Scotland.

"The Foundation already funds other work that supports young people affected by substance misuse and the Scottish Independent Drugs Inquiry complements this work.

"It has the potential to help shape Scotland's response to drug misuse in our communities, and to play a key role in the development and delivery of more effective support for all those affected by drug issues across Scotland."

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