NHS Health Scotland welcomes the alcohol and drug treatment strategy, out today.

Dr Andrew Fraser, Director of Public Health Science at NHS Health Scotland said:

“No-one makes the conscious choice to become alcohol or drug-dependent, and no-one chooses a pathway that risks their life ending tragically and early. Coming off, and staying off alcohol or drugs is hard. But it is possible. With evidence based, person centred joined up support that seeks to support people early and keeps them engaged, we can save lives. The strategy published today recognises this. It also recognises the complexity of the issue.

“The numbers of people dying early from or living with ill health caused by drug use is nearly 15 times higher in poorest areas, and for alcohol it's over 8 times higher. These figures are tragic but they tell us something about the nature of alcohol and drug use – early death or ill health from alcohol and drugs is avoidable, and to solve the problems, we need to look beyond the substances themselves. We have to address the factors that cause harmful drinking, drug use and dependency in the first place. These factors make the difference in people’s life chances as they precede and predispose people to risk, and harm from drugs and alcohol. Establishing positive opportunities and offering hope could prevent harm and offer routes out of dependence on drugs and alcohol. This means a focus on tackling poverty, reducing childhood adversity, improving housing, creating positive employment chances, and addressing mental ill health. This is the public health approach, and we look forward to contributing to the combined effort required to achieve a fairer healthier Scotland.”

For more information visit our webpages on alcohol, drugs and health inequalities.