Scotland drugs crisis: Nicola Sturgeon says problems ‘absolutely not forgotten’ despite campaigners’ concerns

Scotland’s drug crisis is “absolutely not forgotten” despite campaigners’ fears, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

A new report by campaign group Favor (Faces and Voices of Recovery) outlined its concerns on “inconsistent” access to rehabilitation centres and urged political leaders to “wake up” to the reality of the drug crisis.

The First Minister was at Harper House in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire, on Monday with drugs policy minister Angela Constance to officially open a new family drugs treatment service.

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The facility, run by Pheonix Futures charity with £8 million Government grant funding, helps parents battling drug or alcohol addiction to get treatment without the fear of being separated from their children.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon officially opens Harper House in Saltcoats. Picture: Jane Barlow - Pool/Getty Images
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Ms Sturgeon said the facility showed the “real work” that is underway to tackle the crisis after official records revealed there were 1,300 drug related deaths in Scotland last year – nine fewer than the previous year, which was a record.

She said: “This is a facility that is being made possible through partnership with the Scottish Government and significant funding from the Scottish Government.

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“It’s one example of a broader range of treatment options and services that we want to make available for people with a drug misuse problem so that they can rebuild their lives with the support they need around them.”

The Scottish Government’s target of funding 1,000 yearly rehab placements for problematic drugs use by 2026 is still achievable despite concerns from campaigners, the First Minister said.

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Ms Sturgeon added: “We’ve seen a 20 per cent increase in residential rehabilitation places already, so now more than 500, with continued investment from the Scottish Government to ensure that that is a target and aspiration we are able to meet.”

Ms Constance said: “I am very pleased to see as a result of that national mission to save and improve lives that we are funding Scotland’s first national family rehabilitation centre here in Saltcoats.

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“We have also funded the expansion of residential rehab services in the Lothians, we have also supported Aberlour Childcare Trust to develop child and mother houses, and we’ve supported other projects the length and breadth of Scotland – projects that are making a difference here and now.”

She said the Scottish Government had made a “solid start” to reaching the 1,000 placements target, but acknowledged more work needed to be done.

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Addressing Favor’s concerns of a “postcode lottery”, with drug users in some local authorities being unable to access rehab treatment, Ms Constance said:“In terms of residential rehabilitation, it’s the reason that the Scottish Government has provided specific funding to each and every alcohol and drug partnership.”The Favor report was launched at an event at Bluevale Community Centre – the same venue where Ms Sturgeon and Tory leader Douglas Ross paid a visit last year.

Mr Ross, who attended the launch, said: “My visit a year ago alongside Nicola Sturgeon should have heralded a major turning point in tackling this crisis. Instead, the SNP Government have continued to let down campaigners at every turn and merely paid them lip service.”

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