Improvement in treating people for problem substance use

Improvement in treating people for problem substance use

Elena Whitham

Research showing more people are getting treatment for problem substance use has been welcomed by the Scottish government.

The Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) standards support the consistent delivery of safe, accessible, high-quality drug treatment.

The 2022-23 benchmarking report shows significant progress has been made in implementing the standards in local areas with standards one to five now fully implemented in two-thirds of council and health-board-run alcohol and drugs partnerships (ADPs) – up from less than one-fifth last year. Standards 1-5 cover same-day access, medication choice, ongoing support, access to harm reduction and support to remain in treatment.

Drugs minister Elena Whitham said she will continue to help support and hold to account those areas where targets have been missed. Following a letter of direction issued last year to compel local partners to implement the standards, formal oversight procedures will continue.

She said: “I’m pleased that this benchmarking report has highlighted substantial progress in rollout and a transformational change in improved access and choice of treatment. I would like to thank all those who have helped achieve this. Despite this welcome progress, we know there is much more to do and we’ll continue to work with ADPs across the country.

“The oversight process introduced to monitor local performance will be refreshed and remain until the standards are embedded. I will continue to meet local leaders across Scotland to challenge them on progress and hold them to account where necessary.

“We’re focused on getting more people into the form of treatment which works best for them. Through our £250 million National Mission on drugs, which we’ll continue to fund until the end of this Parliament, we have already supported 300 grass-roots projects, and will continue to drive MAT Standards implementation and expand residential rehabilitation.”

Earlier Ms Whitham visited the Newlands Centre (North East Alcohol and Drug Recovery Service) in Glasgow, to hear how the service had helped Glasgow City make good progress against its implementation plan.

Head of service, alcohol and drug recovery services, at Glasgow HSCP, Kelda Gaffney, said: “MAT Standards have effected significant change to the way in which treatment and care is delivered and experienced by people, by changing the ethos and culture into a more collaborative and holistic service.

“The MAT Standards give people back control and choice in relation to their treatment and recovery, which then changes the narrative from one of hopelessness to one of optimism and empowerment. Feedback from people who have engaged with treatment over the last year clearly highlights that they feel less stigmatised and more included, and more likely to become involved with recovery services and recovery communities.”

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