Scottish Conservatives unveil new strategy to reduce drug deaths
A “second chance” plan for drug users and a target to slash drug deaths in half are at the centre of a new drugs strategy unveiled by the Scottish Conservatives today.
The strategy also backs a review of the SNP Government’s controversial methadone programme, and the creation of personalised “Life Plans” for every drug user so that, rather than simply managing addiction, government policy is designed to support users coming off drugs.
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “The Scottish Conservative plan is based on a simple premise: users don’t need a drugs plan to help them manage their addiction, they need a life plan to help them end their addiction.”
The “second chance” plan would mean that drug users caught for the first time could choose to avoid having a criminal record – so long as they agree to attend Local Commissions and receive treatment if necessary.
However, if they are caught again, the plan would demand that such drug users would feel the full force of the law.
The Scottish Conservative plan comes with Scotland on track to record more than 1,000 drug deaths next year for the first time.
The ambitious strategy has a target to halve the number of drug deaths in five years and increase the number of problem drug users accessing treatment from 40 percent to 60 percent.
In summary, today’s strategy calls for:
First time drug users to be given a “second chance” so long as they attend Local Commissions
An independent review of methadone
A redesign of alcohol and drug services
The redirection of funds into rehabilitation, recovery and abstinence
More prison based interventions followed by transitional and long term support for addicts
Increased peer support, employability and education programmes
A Third sector led recovery taskforce
Ten years ago, the Scottish Conservatives called for a 10-year strategy to tackle drug misuse. But the SNP Government has failed to follow it through. Simply put, the Scottish Government’s efforts to reduce drug misuse have failed and the crisis is getting worse.
Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary said:
“Scotland is facing a drugs crisis. As many as 1000 Scots are expected to die from drug related deaths this year alone.
“Drugs wreck families, destroy lives and are holding back some of our poorest communities.
“The SNP Government’s efforts to reduce drug misuse have failed and the crisis is getting worse.
“The Scottish Conservative plan is based on a simple premise: users don’t need a drugs plan to help them manage their addiction, they need a life plan to help them end their addiction.
“We believe every problem drug user can be brought off drugs and supported back to a functioning lifestyle.
“So, at the centre of our plan is a call to give every problem drug user in Scotland a personalised Life Plan to support and sustain their transition from addiction back to a functioning life.
“We also believe we will have most impact by getting in early. So our strategy today sets out radical steps to deal with first time drug offenders – to ensure their first time is also their last time.
“It would be their choice – take responsibility for yourself and your actions, and you get a second chance and avoid a criminal record. Offend again, and you can expect to feel the full force of the law.
“That’s a fair deal for drug users and communities. It’s a fair deal that we now need the SNP Government to support.
“A decade ago Scottish Conservatives asked SNP Ministers to lead a step change to address the growing drugs crisis in Scotland. Today that crisis has reached new levels and the need for fresh thinking and a new national approach is critical.”