Scots with first-hand experience of drug addiction to be involved in new policy

Those with "lived experience" of drug addiction will have a key role in shaping policy on the issue, a minister has said.

Drugs Policy minister Angela Constance made the pledge as she announced funds worth £18 million for drug treatment services in Scotland.

The Scottish Parliament debated the "national mission" to reduce drug deaths on Thursday.

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Ms Constance was appointed to the newly-created ministerial role in December, after figures showed Scotland's drug-related deaths rose to 1,264 in 2019, the highest number since records began.

On Thursday, she said she had recently met with a group of women, dealing with drug dependency, who had delivered a message of "hopelessness" as they felt their "lives didn't matter".

Ms Constance said: "It is vital that we respond in a way that can restore hope to those who most need it, to show that their lives do, indeed, matter and they are valued as our fellow citizens."

There will be local and national panels including people with "lived and living experience" involved in decision-making around the new drugs policy, she said.

The minister said this would include existing organisations and would be a "significant new approach".

Needles are seen littering the pavement in a lane in Glasgow, Scotland, September 2020. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Needles are seen littering the pavement in a lane in Glasgow, Scotland, September 2020. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Of the £18 million fund, £3 million will go to children and families affected by drugs misuse.

Another £5 million will go towards increasing capacity for residential rehabilitation and £5 million will go towards improving existing services.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman, Donald Cameron, said he welcomed the new approach from the Scottish Government, calling on ministers to work with their UK counterparts to deal with the issue.

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