In a Ministerial statement on drugs policy to the Scottish Parliament at the end of January the First Minister announced additional funding over the next five years to address drug-related deaths in Scotland.
The funding consists of an extra £5 million that will be delivered in what remains of this financial year, to be deployed for high priority work.
If the current Government is returned after the Scottish Parliament election, the announcement promises £50m per year on top. This will include an additional £20 million a year for residential rehabilitation that, according to the Government, will include a significant proportion of the extra funding towards developing sustainable capacity in regional centres.
The Scottish Government aims to focus on key areas urgently, including residential rehabilitation, rapid and appropriate access to treatment, an approach that supports people living with drug addiction to address underlying issues and the role of frontline third-sector organisations. The additional funding is welcome, more information is needed about the implications for people receiving benefits who want to enter rehabilitation services. It is essential that seeking help for addiction does not result in people losing benefits, resulting in financial hardship, and that people are not forced to chose between rehab, or their welfare benefits