I applaud Scotland's Future Forum on their forthright recommendations for the development of treatment and care services for those with drug and alcohol problems. Doubtless there will be criticism of proposals to prescribe pharmaceutical heroin. However, it should be noted that this already occurs elsewhere in Europe, and in North America, and safe injecting areas are available. Indeed, limited prescription of heroin already occurs within the UK, with some success. The prescription of heroin, methadone, and alternatives such as Suboxone, all have a potential role to play in moving drug users along the road to recovery.
In combination with the Scottish Government's significant new investment in the education, prevention, and treatment of alcohol problems, and the recently published Road to Recovery drugs policy, it is to be hoped that we might see a significant improvement in treatment and care services, with commensurate improvement in outcomes, and fewer drug and alcohol-related deaths.
It is also heartening to see a growing recognition that addiction is not simply a problem that can be treated medically and which only affects the individual. Rather, alcohol and drug problems affect families, organisations and society as a whole. As such, solutions must be found that are medical, psychosocial, economic, and cultural.
I look forward to parliament's response.
Dr Gary Tanner, Clinical Lead, Alcohol and Drug Services, NHS Lanarkshire, Coathill Hospital, Coatbridge.