🙏Amid recent developments in Portland and the grave warnings conveyed to Scottish ministers by Commissioner Gonzalez, it becomes all the more vital that we illuminate the shortcomings of Scotland’s existing addiction treatment system. Currently, merely a fraction of our treatment budget is dedicated to empowering us to liberate ourselves from addiction, while the predominant focus and investment center around facilitating the “safer use of drugs.” This stark reality should deeply trouble the conscience of our ministers, as it carries far-reaching consequences. The ethical questions surrounding the absence of services geared toward freedom from addiction ought to weigh heavily on the leadership within Scotland’s addiction sector.

Commissioner Gonzalez’s cautionary message serves as a powerful reminder. While we may be enticed by the allure of “progressiveness”, we must not neglect the moral imperative to provide tangible solutions out of addiction & into recovery. Our current treatment system is failing and unless we take decisive action, we will continue to witness the unfolding of this humanitarian crisis.

Urgent recalibration of our investment in addiction treatment is imperative to extend the lifelines needed for individuals to break free from addiction’s relentless grip. Preventing the ongoing crisis from persisting requires a fundamental shift in our approach. This shift will remain elusive if ministers persist in heeding the counsel of the current addiction leadership without acknowledging that it was under their guidance that our current crisis evolved. To navigate our way out of this crisis, we must entrust the helm to experts in recovery, individuals uniquely qualified to lead us towards a solution.

It is essential to recognise that while addiction experts possess deep knowledge of addiction itself, they lack the vision, clarity, or the requisite understanding of the path to recovery and how to break free from its grasp. Therefore, we must prioritise a shift in leadership toward those who specialise in recovery, individuals capable of charting a course away from the current trajectory.

We must also acknowledge the recent unanimous vote by Portland City Council to ban hard drugs on public property, a reflection of profound public outrage over the consumption of dangerous substances.

At its core, addiction strips us of our autonomy and subjects us & our families to immense physical, emotional, and psychological suffering.

The experience of addiction is marked by a profound sense of helplessness and vulnerability. Those affected endure a relentless cycle of cravings and withdrawal, often leading to actions we would not otherwise choose. This struggle erodes our sense of self-worth and isolates us from those who love us, exacerbating distress & the removal of dignity for everyone involved.

Our unwavering focus must be on providing our loved ones grappling with addiction, and ourselves, with the compassionate and comprehensive support needed to regain control of our bodies & lives.

Addiction, inherently, defies control and manageability. It is imperative for the addiction sector to relinquish the notion, indeed, the profound misconception, that it can somehow enable us to “manage” or “control” our addiction & keep us “safe” it cannot, as plainly evidenced in the continuing escalation of deaths. We must come out of collective denial of this fact.

It is imperative to understand that without providing us with services that genuinely facilitate our escape from addiction, we are tragically destined to witness the continued unfolding of this humanitarian catastrophe. Our responsibility is abundantly clear: We must prioritise the allocation of resources to empower individuals to overcome addiction, offering us the opportunity for recovery and preventing further suffering. Only through this balanced approach can we genuinely uphold the well-being and dignity of our communities. The Right to Recovery Bill, #OorBill, represents a path towards this dignity in place of degradation & death.

Annemarie Ward

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