RESIDENTIAL rehabilitation projects are among the initiatives to tackle Scotland’s drug death crisis which will receive a share of £3.6 million from the Scottish Government, it has been announced.

Drugs and alcohol policy minister Christina McKelvie said that 14 projects which help recovery have been awarded funding.

This includes £1m for four new residential rehabilitation projects which will allow the facilities to hire staff to provide more in-depth support to people as they transition from rehab, while a new women’s recovery house is also included.

McKelvie (below) said the investment was supporting the Scottish Government’s targets to increase the number of statutory funded placements per year to 1000 by 2026.

The National: Minister for Drugs and Alcohol Policy, Christina McKelvie

The most up-to-date figures published by Public Health Scotland showed 477 placements were funded between April 1 and September 30, 2023.

The funding will support outdoor recovery programmes and cafes, and will also help protect vulnerable adults who are at risk of “cuckooing” – where a drug dealer or gang takes over their address to supply, store or produce substances.

McKelvie said: “This funding and these projects are helping to save and improve lives across Scotland.

“It will support a range of initiatives, from rescuing vulnerable people from having their homes and lives taken over by drug-dealing ‘cuckooing’ gangs, to supporting outdoor recovery programmes and expanding recovery cafes.

“It also includes a very significant investment in developing residential rehabilitation services. Increasing access and improving these services is another key part of our national mission and we’re well on our way to our target of increasing the number of statutory funded placements to 1000 by 2026.”

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McKelvie made the announcements during a visit to Crossreach’s Residential Recovery Service in Glasgow, which will use its award of £357,816 to employ two staff members to improve aftercare provision.

Scottish Tory MSP Sue Webber has said the Scottish Government “should go the whole hog” and back the party’s Right to Recovery Bill.

She said: “While this announcement is a step in the right direction, it must be seen in the context of previous SNP cuts to rehab places and a real-terms reduction in drug and alcohol funding announced in the budget.

“Drug fatality rates in Scotland are by far the worst in Europe, and they shame us a nation. Similarly, alcohol-related deaths are at their highest since 2008.

“Far too many families continue to grieve for loved ones tragically lost to addiction, which is why the Right to Recovery Bill is so desperately needed.

“For far too long, the most vulnerable in our society have continued to see those in charge fail to take the decisive action needed to save lives, which is why I hope MSPs from all parties will support it.”

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On Sunday, The National reported that many experts had concerns about the Conservatives' bill, but were keeping "shtum" due to fear of backlash.

Peter Krykant, a prominent drugs reform campaigner who now works with the charity Cranstoun, called the bill a “smokescreen of compassion”.

He said: “My worry is that the SNP could potentially look to back this because in the face of it and from a public-facing, media perspective, ‘everybody has a right now in law to addiction recovery’.

“In actual fact, it's unworkable, over costly, won't help the people that it is designed to help, and actually it’s stigmatising.”