Scotland publishes new treatment standards

Ten new standards for drug treatment have been published by the Scottish Government’s Drug Deaths Taskforce, with the aim of reinforcing ‘a rights-based approach for people who use drugs and the treatment they should expect, regardless of where they live’. 

Scottish drug policy minister Angela Constance
Scottish drug policy minister Angela Constance

The standards apply to both substitute medication and psychological and social support, and stress the importance of people being able to make informed choices about the kinds of medication and help available. People must also ‘be able to start receiving treatment on the day that they ask for it’, the Scottish Government states. Funding from the annual £50m for treatment services announced earlier this year (DDN, February, page 4) will ensure that alcohol and drugs partnerships are able to embed the new standards by next April, it adds.

Four separate funds worth a total of £18m are also open for applications from not-for-profit organisations in the drugs sector, the Scottish Government has announced. They are a £5m recovery fund to improve residential capacity, a £5m improvement fund for outreach services, a £5m local support fund and a £3m children and families fund. The schemes will run for five years and are intended to improve access to treatment and support consistent standards. 

‘We now have a set of standards which are safe, accessible and person-centred,’ said drug policy minister Angela Constance. ‘These will help ensure consistency of treatment across the country. Making help available and giving people an informed choice is an essential part of respecting a person’s rights and dignity. It is also an approach which is more likely to be effective and provide people with the support and treatment they need.’

Scottish Drugs Forum CEO David Liddell
Scottish Drugs Forum CEO David Liddell

‘Scotland’s MAT [medication-assisted treatment] standards are the most significant landmark in improving Scotland’s response to problem drug use in over a decade,’ added Scottish Drugs Forum CEO David Liddell. ‘Implementing the standards will be the most significant development in addressing the ongoing public health emergency of drug-related deaths.

People who enter treatment are amongst the most vulnerable people in our society and often find engaging with services difficult. Services need to be more attractive, more approachable and more accessible, and reach out to people who have been in treatment but no longer are. These standards are the basis for  making services truly person-centred. Implementing them will help services develop empowering relationships with people in treatment. Full implementation of the standards will save lives, reduce harm and transform people’s quality of life.’

Medication assisted treatment (MAT) standards for Scotland: Access, choice, support are here 

Fund details at


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