Addaction Scotland – the country’s biggest drug and alcohol treatment and recovery charity – was the subject of a Scottish Parliament debate last week.Christine Grahame, who is MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, led the debate after seeing first-hand how Addaction (which has a service in her constituency) can be a lifeline to people affected by drugs and alcohol. The majority of people referred are seen within three weeks.
The SNP politician told Holyrood: “Addaction’s aim is to support people in their recovery from addiction, in the recognition that drug and alcohol addictions are health and wellbeing issues and not an issue for the criminal justice system. There is a dedicated and professional team of workers, complemented by volunteers, recovery champions and students, who work hard to reduce harm and promote recovery among people who are affected by substance misuse.”
The MSP then read out a heartfelt and powerful letter from a constituent who was supported by Addaction Scotland and empowered, along with her family, to move into recovery.
Christine added: “Despite the forthcoming hiatus of a general election, we should remember that, in the everyday world, charities such as Addaction simply get on with the job of helping and supporting people whose lives are falling apart. Those people have far bigger problems on their mind than Brexit - and their lives are turned around thanks to Addaction and its staff and volunteers.”
As the debate continued, Addaction Scotland got cross-party support, with speakers including Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton, Labour MSP Colin Smyth and SNP MSPs Stuart McMillan and Aileen Campbell.
Minister for Public Health and Sport Aileen Campbell added: “The responsibility for drugs policy moved in April 2016 from the justice portfolio to my health portfolio. That demonstrates the Government’s commitment to look at substance misuse through a different lens and to address it in the wider context of the public health challenges that we face.
“I further congratulate Addaction and thank it - and organisations like it - for all that they do. I renew my commitment to tackle the problem in a fresh way, drawing on the expertise and perspectives available, including those of people with lived experience.
“We need to continue to look at addiction through a health lens so that we continue to make the progress that we and our country need to ensure that public health services in Scotland can ensure that everybody, regardless of the health issues that they face, gets their fair chance to flourish.”