MSPs have backed a new £68 million action plan to tackle Scotland’s grim drug deaths.
Angela Constance told the parliament the money would be pledged over the next three years to offer anyone seeking treatment access to services without “stigma and discrimination.”
The comments from the drugs policy minister came as she published the government’s response to the 139 recommendations in last year’s report from the drug deaths taskforce chaired by former police chief constable David Strang.
Ms Constance said: “I do very much believe that the actions in the cross-government plan will help to ensure that people who need support for their drug use, as well as the families, can access the right support at the right time.
“And also ensure that any public service that they might need, that they can access that without facing stigma or discrimination.”
She said the funding includes £30m for drug services in primary care settings.
Another £18m will go towards crisis care services and schemes which help people stabilise their lives.
The Government also announced a stigma action plan, which includes an accreditation scheme for organisations which improve awareness.
Ms Constance said: “The drug deaths taskforce was formed to provide independent expert advice on our response to this emergency and this cross-government action plan includes a broad range of initiatives which will not only support the complex needs of people who use drugs, but also help support prevention and early intervention.
“This publication outlines our whole-Government commitment to addressing this challenge and ensuring that people with problem substance use can access all the services they need and are entitled to.”
Conservative drugs policy spokeswoman Sue Webber welcomed the Government’s response to the taskforce report.
She urged ministers to back Tory leader Douglas Ross’s proposed Right to Addiction Recovery Bill.
Ms Webber said: “More needs to be done, there continues to be a widening gap between the warm words of the SNP on the drug deaths scandal and the reality of how little action they continue to take on the ground.”
Scottish Lib Dem leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton urged MSPs to back an amendment to the motion being debated to call for the implementation of drugs testing facilities, as seen in other parts of the UK, at events such as festivals, to prevent harm and for safe consumption facilities across Scotland.
The amendment was rejected by MSPs, with only Scottish Liberal Democrats and Scottish Labour in favour.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “Our drugs death crisis is a stain on our country’s record. These deaths mean countless people who will never be able to hug their loved ones again, countless families left with a permanent hole, countless tears in countless communities.
“Despite the many debates, reports and pledges, progress at the hands of the SNP has been glacial Radical change is needed and it is needed quickly.
“The amendment I put forward today calls for internationally recognised solutions for tackling drug misuse and keeping people safe. These are simple steps that the Scottish Government could take to reduce deaths now.
“I am disappointed that once again the Scottish Government have failed to recognise the seriousness of Scotland’s drugs death crisis. This will be a bitter blow to families across Scotland.”
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