Taking Addiction Seriously

The tragedies of addiction, drug and alcohol deaths, and suicides are disproportionately high in the least affluent parts of Scotland. The waste of human potential, suffering, loss and economic effects are enormous, long lasting and inter generational. Poverty remains the greatest driver of inequality, poor health and traumatic episodes. Rising inflation and terrifying increases in fuel bills and food prices are likely only to force hundreds of thousands more Scots into poverty and despair.

Our communities must face adversity together, immediately reverse our intolerable record of avoidable drugs related deaths and the consequential toll experienced by unimaginable numbers of families plunged into bereavement. Those Scots who believe they have the least to lose have also the most to gain from Independence, when we can address poverty, its causes and effects, comprehensively and holistically. We must seek our Independence without delay.

Meantime, whilst hobbled by the constraints of devolution, ALBA believes that a combination of immediate, medium and long term plans must be set in motion so as to address inequality in all its guises. Time is not on the side of those in greatest need and hardship.

Medical interventions address dependence; psycho-social supports are necessary to aid recovery from addiction.

Addiction is often an outcome of trauma particularly where early years are punctuated by Adverse Childhood Experiences; family support and community will are desirable for healthy development of all of Scotland’s children.

Decriminalisation of personal drugs use is one important aspect of a multi faceted approach; success in reducing addictions and poor outcomes, including unnecessary premature deaths, can be achieved only by a combination of aims including better, more varied and locally based treatment options favouring abstinence, encouraging social integration and enabling lasting recovery.

Scotland has urgent pressing need of dedicated rehabilitation beds for immediate short and long term use, including a halfway house following detoxification and facilities for intensive mother and baby support.

“You don’t know what it’s like to be me” - those with lived experience recognise the needs, vulnerabilities and strengths of those seeking recovery and relief - workers within the sector should include a greater proportion of those in recovery whose views and knowledge ought to inform practice.

Residential rehabilitation should become a mandatory alternative to prison where deemed appropriate as an outcome to be pursued proactively, not piecemeal or dictated by postcode lottery.

ALBA accordingly affirms:

Support for the legally enforceable right to recovery.

Determination to pursue recognised international best practice in line with the aims of the United Nations commitments including the strengthening of effective comprehensive initiatives covering prevention, early intervention, treatment, care, recovery, rehabilitation and social integration measures on a non-discriminatory basis.

ALBA implores the Scottish Government to:

Fulfil and extend its commitment to providing residential rehabilitation facilities of a high standard nationwide available to all free at the point of need within the current financial year.

Set in motion local psycho-social support services including Talking Therapies thereby addressing prevention by limiting the isolation and despair which addiction invariably brings.

Create a recruitment drive to increase the numbers of counsellors and support workers with lived experience of addiction and recovery to become a legal minimum of at least 40% of the workforce.

These proposals will begin to address past failures, but will not provide a holistic package of care until we eradicate poverty from our country. It is manmade, wholly unnecessary and shameful. Scotland’s people deserve hope, and the ability and rights to fulfil their potential in an egalitarian democracy. Scotland’s government and institutions must deliver the services, inspiration and respect worthy of the 21st century fit for a people intent on marching to an autonomous self-governing destiny.