A new era has begun in Scottish politics, and First Minister Humza Yousaf has assembled his cabinet and ministerial team. These individuals will be instrumental in determining the shape of Scotland’s future. The nation faces many serious challenges, but addressing the growing addiction crisis, which has seen Scotland continue to perform poorly in relation to the rest of the UK, and repeatedly record the highest drug-related mortality rate in western Europe, should be the highest priority for the new administration.

As the new administration takes shape, it is vital that we remember the neglect of our communities that has contributed to this crisis. The First Minister can choose whether or not to make addressing addiction treatment emergency a priority for his administration. He can decide to restore hope to the tens of thousands of people who have desperately sought treatment & been unable to access it and he can make amends for the tens of thousands of people who have lost loved ones during the last era.

We are experiencing record numbers of deaths among women and young people.  Moreover, Scotland’s addiction services are chronically underfunded, have limited expertise in recovery and trauma practices and staff lack the resources necessary to perform their jobs safely. These services have been severely inadequate for quite some time. 

We welcome Elena Whitman to her new position as Minister for Drugs and Alcohol policy, and look forward to working with her and her team. As a charitable think tank and human rights advocacy service led by people living with, and with experience of, addictions, we will be seeking an early meeting with the new minister in order to help her secure the policy changes required to address the country’s addiction crisis as an urgent priority. We have knowledge, experience, and specialist expertise which can make an important contribution to developing new, focused policies in this vital sphere.

What is currently lacking is a balanced treatment system that is not based on ideology and provides access to all evidence-based treatments that may help people recover. We have a clear proposal for a way forward. Ie #OorBill – The right to recovery Bill  would give everyone a legal right to access and choice of treatment, something they currently don’t have in Scotland’s one size fits all treatment system. Our Bill should be at the top of everyone’s agenda in the new government, and if it isn’t, we must all comprehend why. 

Every Individual can Recover, Not everyone will recover. However, it is unknown who will. Therefore, we must afford everyone, every chance of recovery.

The Right to Recover Bill ‘#OorBill grants everyone access, choice, and opportunity. The most vulnerable people of Scotland deserve every chance and opportunity to recover, and their needs should be at the heart of the social justice agenda of the new government. We are ready, willing and able to help with this challenge.

Annemarie WardCEO, Faces & Voices of Recovery UK