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Drug and alcohol rehab strategies to be revamped

Ministers battling to beat Scotland’s addiction to drink and drugs will unveil a radical shake-up of rehabilitation today.

They are to disband Scotland’s 11 Alcohol and Drug Action Teams and create 32 local authority teams.

Following a damning critique of efforts to reduce the harm caused by alcohol and drugs by Audit Scotland last month, a new framework will be created to make services more accountable to local authorities.

The new partnerships, which will replace ADATs, will be asked to develop local strategies for tackling drug and alcohol misuse, with an emphasis on related areas such as child neglect.

In future they will form part of the agreements put forward by local authorities, and will have to be based on a robust assessment of needs in their area, a transparent, evidence-based process for agreeing how funds for tackling alcohol and drug misuse should be deployed, and a clear focus on the outcomes that investment is achieving for their communities.

Dave Liddell, head of the Scottish Drugs Forum, said: “With the government’s strategy focusing heavily on recovery, it’s vital that local planning structures are fit for purpose. This should ensure that greater attention is paid to the wider support needs of those with drug problems, for example housing and access to education and training.”

The Audit Scotland report revealed that Scotland’s addiction to drugs and alcohol is costing the country at least £5bn a year – and suggested ministers were not doing enough to tackle the growing problem.

It found that levels of drug and alcohol misuse in Scotland are among the highest in Europe and getting worse, in contrast with other countries, which are reducing the harm caused by substance abuse.

The report said the Scottish Government had failed to set out what the tens of millions of pounds spent on drugs and alcohol services every year are meant to achieve, with ministers failing to enforce national standards drawn up three years ago.

This has led to a postcode lottery for services, with the range and accessibility of treatment varying across the country, without always being based on local needs.

While recent Scottish Government strategies have a focus on prevention, only 6% of direct spending was on preventive activities.

In future local strategies and accountability will have to be far clearer, with action to help families and better support for parents.

The report acknowledges the SNP is addressing some of these issues. NHS boards have been told to spend an extra £24.8 million on screening and interventions to prevent people developing serious alcohol problems.

It also highlighted service providers’ “added difficulty” of complex funding arrangements, with different sources of cash working to different criteria and deadlines.

The report says that in 2007 health boards and councils spent £77m on drug services and £26m on alcohol services, although alcohol-related deaths, at 1399, far outnumbered the 455 drug-related deaths.

It recommends the Scottish Government set minimum standards for drug and alcohol services, and clarify what different agencies are responsible for delivering.

source: The Herald

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