In the ten years since the publication of Scotland’s previous alcohol and drugs strategies we have seen a lot of positive change. I am proud of the successes achieved over this period, driven by Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, our nationallycommissioned organisations, Health Boards, Councils, Integration Authorities, Third Sector Organisations, Mutual Aid Organisations, but also, crucially, by individuals, their families and wider communities. A key success to improving outcomes for individuals, families and communities has been the introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol, the establishment of recovery oriented systems of care, and the growth of over 120 recovery communities throughout Scotland.
The introduction of a waiting times standard is also a worthy achievement, as is the introduction of the world’s first take home naloxone programme, an initiative which we are confident has saved lives. We have also provided a vision that recovery is possible, recognising that each recovery journey is unique. But we also recognise that through an increasing visibility of recovery, we can begin to tackle some of the issues of stigma and discrimination that affect so many individuals and family members.
Despite our other successes, over the last five years we have, tragically, seen a sharp increase in drug related deaths across Scotland. Although alcohol deaths are not rising at such a rate, any loss of life weighs heavily on me personally, but it also takes a toll on Scotland’s communities and all of us as a nation. Everyone has the right to health and to live free from the harms of alcohol and drugs. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and dignity and for their individual recovery journey to be fully supported. This strategy is, therefore, about how we best support people across alcohol and drug issues - taking a human rights-based, public health approach to ensure we are delivering the best possible care, treatment and responses for individuals and communities.