Drug users offered same-day support to reduce drug-related deaths
An East Ayrshire project is offering same-day support for people seeking help for drug use through an initiative introduced ahead of new treatment standards for Scotland.
A total of £4 million was announced in May to fund Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) standards, which will mean people who use drugs receive help the day they ask for it regardless of where they live.
The Alcohol and Drugs Partnership in East Ayrshire started the Rapid Access to Drug and Alcohol Recovery (RADAR) project in April in response to requests for quicker access to treatment. All patients who present for help on weekdays are given appropriate support the same day with emergency services available at the weekend.
Drugs policy Minister Angela Constance said: “I am pleased to see how the RADAR project in East Ayrshire is benefitting patients, providing the right support at the right time for those who want it.
“It has been extremely interesting to hear from staff and service users on how the initiative has been working and we will take the lessons learned here as we move to roll-out same-day support across Scotland. We will start to see this happening from this autumn.
“Getting more people into treatment is key to our national mission to tackle drug deaths. The MAT standards are vital to this, ensuring consistency across the country, and I have set a target of April 2022 for the implementation of all 10 of them. These standards reinforce a rights-based approach for people who use drugs and the treatment they should expect, regardless of where they live.
“We have said a national mission is needed to tackle the drug deaths emergency and we have allocated an additional £250 million over the next five years to improve and increase access to services for people affected by drug addiction. “
East Ayrshire Council’s spokesperson for social care, mental wellbeing and addiction recovery councillor Clare Maitland said: “Partnership projects such as RADAR make vital, positive impacts to the health and wellbeing of people in our communities. I am very encouraged that since the beginning of April we have been able to provide support within one day to people who are concerned about their drug use and have asked for help.
“We know that being in contact with a service is a significant protective factor in preventing drug-related deaths. The faster we can get someone help and support, the better the outcomes will be for them, their family, and ultimately for our communities. So reducing our waiting time for drug and alcohol treatment from three weeks to in most cases, just one day has been a great step forward for East Ayrshire.”
Chair of the East Ayrshire Alcohol and Drugs Partnership Neil Kerr added: “RADAR is a direct result of listening to and working with our services and people who use them. We heard loud and clear that waiting for three weeks for treatment was three weeks too long. We need to intervene with people and support them when they ask for it and often that means the same day.”
Service user David said: “In my opinion, the RADAR service has been a flawless service. I have had no issues with them. They have been in constant contact with me and I feel very well supported. My life would be far less stable without my key worker and if the service was not available.”