Dundee's drug problem 'can be turned around'

16 August 2019, 13:32


Problem drug use in Dundee "can be turned around" and the number of drug-related deaths reduced, according to a new report.

The Dundee Drugs Commission, set up last year in response to an increasing number of fatalities, said it had found a "fractured" system of treatment and support.

The commission has published 16 recommendations which it says will take "strong and dedicated leadership over many years" to successfully implement.

These include a need for cultural change across drug treatment services, as well as addressing the root causes of drug problems.

The commission also highlighted issues for national consideration, including asking the Scottish Government to consider equal regulation of the whole substance use services and treatment sector.

It backed calls to petition the UK Government to grant increased devolved powers to allow for a full Scottish review of drug laws.

Chairman Robert Peat said: "I believe we have completed a robust analysis and our report has 16 challenging recommendations for the Dundee Partnership to address.

"In so doing, we feel that the situation in Dundee can be turned around and that there will be a reduction in the number of drug-related deaths in the city.

"One of our key recommendations focuses on leadership and it is the collective leadership in the city which must now show the determination to stick with what will be a difficult task over the coming months and years ahead."

Mr Peat added: "We found a system of treatment and support which we describe as fractured.

"All of the services in Dundee must work with a concerted effort to implement the necessary changes.

"The problems of the past must be left behind and a culture of openness, honesty, respect and trust must be central to the partnership as it takes forward this work.

"Our recommendations also focus on treatment and support, drug-related deaths and mental health.

"We heard heartbreaking testimony from families and friends bereaved by drug-related deaths.

"Every life is precious and every death matters. These thoughts have guided our work."

Dundee City Council leader John Alexander said the report could prove to be a "turning point" for the city.

"Every death is a tragedy that is felt deeply by families and communities across Dundee," he said.

"We cannot go on this way and we have to make radical changes.

"That is why I believe that the report from the Dundee Drugs Commission is a turning point for our city to prevent drugs from taking such a heavy toll in the future."

NHS Tayside chief executive Grant Archibald said: "We all recognise that the circumstances which lead to an individual using drugs are often complex.

"That is why we need a new approach to care and support which connects all of the organisations involved in a more co-ordinated way, one which puts individuals and communities at the centre of shaping services for the future and together builds a whole system support network."