Scottish drug addicts should not be treated as second-class says Government

Government Ministers in Scotland are proposing a rethink on how drug addiction is both viewed and treated and want drug users' aspirations to be recognised.

The Scottish Government says drug users should not be treated as second-class citizens and deserve the same right to care as everyone else.

The Government statement follows recommendations from drug experts for a change in treatment to focus on recovery.

In a report last July it was revealed that the number of people treated for heroin use in Scotland has reached record levels.

Ministers are calling for a change in focus because a lack of emphasis on abstinence was leaving heroin patients on methadone in a state of suspended animation.

Drug treatment experts say the development of a new national drugs strategy means there has perhaps never been a more fitting time to raise aspirations.

The expert say as many as 21,000 people are using methadone to help them with their addiction and the Scottish Advisory Committee on Drug Misuse (SACDM) says drug treatment policy needs to be re-vamped.

SACDM says patient aspirations should be at the centre of care - an approach already used to treat mental health patients.

Advisory committee member Dr. Brian Kidd, says there needs to be a major change in the philosophy of care for problem substance use in Scotland which will not be achieved overnight.

Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing says it is essential that people with drug problems had access to employment, housing and other services which would help rebuild their lives.

Ewing says many have responsibilities for bringing up and caring for children, but they should also be able to earn a wage, contribute to society and adhere to the law of the land.

Critics of current drug programmes have claimed that many drug addicts were sitting "fat, dumb and happy" on methadone and drugs strategy needed to vastly improve abstinence-based projects to help users regain normal lifestyles.

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