06/10/2009

Drugs Misuse 'Too Great To Ignore'

Reducing the number of problem drug misusers and disrupting the illicit drugs market can bring huge social and economic benefits to Scotland, Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing said today.

The Minister was commenting on the publication of two related research reports - Estimating the National and Local Prevalence of Problem Drug Misuse in Scotland, and Assessing the Scale and Impact of Illicit Drug Markets in Scotland.

Both reports were commissioned by the Scottish Government and ISD Scotland and are based on data from 2006 - and Mr Ewing said the figures highlight the pressing need for the Scottish Government's new drugs strategy.

Mr Ewing said: "Today's reports give us the fullest picture ever obtained about the extent of the damage that drug misuse brings to communities. It shows the scale of the problem, both in human terms and in financial terms.

"These figures relate to 2006 and amply show why we needed to bring forward a new strategy to tackle drug addiction and help assist people into recovery.

"Our National Drugs Strategy - endorsed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament - sets out our commitment to get people off drugs. Key to this is making sure people can recover from their addictions by accessing the treatment and support they need, when they need it."

Mr Ewing acknowledged that while progress is being made, it is unacceptable that some people are still having to wait months to get the help they seek. He said the government are working closely with their partners to develop a waiting times target for services, to improve access to appropriate treatment to promote recovery from addiction.

They have also increased our funding to NHS Boards for drug treatment services to support work to tackle waiting times.

"But investment in successful drug treatment represents savings in other areas. Less crime is committed, more people can hold down jobs and contribute to their communities rather than be a drain on them, " he continued.

"Dealing with Scotland's drugs problem is not straightforward. It involves a combination of education, prevention, treatment and enforcement - and a shared determination. But we are committed to turning round lives and helping deliver a safer, stronger Scotland."

The National and Local Prevalence of Problem Drug Misuse in Scotland has estimated that 55,328 individuals, aged 15-64, were misusing opiates and benzodiazepines in Scotland in 2006.

(GK/BMcC)

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