SCOTLAND’S first addictions service will treat patients with pharmaceutical-grade heroin by the end of the year.

The new £1.2 million facility housing the Enhanced Drug Treatment Service (EDTS), which is licensed by the Home Office and delivered by the Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, will be open between 9am and 5pm each day.

The EDTS aims to decrease the risk of overdoses, stop blood-borne diseases from spreading and reduce the number of people injecting in public areas.

It is hoped the centre will help plans for a drug consumption facility to also open in Glasgow, allowing a safe, clean place where people could use their own street drugs in the presence of trained medical staff who could react in the event of an overdose.

The Scottish Government has been pushing for such a facility to be opened in Glasgow, but the Home Office has repeatedly denied them the legal rights to do so.

Glasgow had a record number of drug-related deaths last year, as well as an increased number of non-fatal overdoses.

Susanne Millar, chairwoman of Glasgow’s Alcohol and Drug Partnership, said: “This challenging social issue demands innovative treatments and this gold-standard service is leading the way in Scotland.

“It is aimed at people with the most chaotic lifestyles and severe addictions who have not responded to existing treatments.”

She added: “People might question why health services are spending money providing heroin for people with addictions – the answer is ‘we can’t afford not to’.

“Not only are we are striving to save the lives of individuals themselves, we also aim to reduce the spread of HIV and to reduce the impact of addictions on Glasgow families and communities.

“Successfully treating a person’s addiction not only helps them, it reduces pressures on front-line health and criminal justice services while reducing antisocial behaviour and drug related crime in communities.”

Meanwhile Dr Saket Priyadarshi, senior medical officer at Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Recovery Services, welcomed the new service.

He said: “This is a much needed and welcome addition to the comprehensive treatment and care services already existing in Glasgow.

“We have known for a number of years that there are people who continue to experience harm despite receiving conventional treatment.

“It is only appropriate that, as in other branches of medicine, we can offer addictions patients the next line in treatment.

“Heroin-assisted treatment is a highly evidence-based intervention and it will be delivered with intensive psycho-social support to address the wide range of harm and social care needs that this population experiences.”