Enough excuses

Barry Sheridan*, Iain McPhee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationFeatured article


For more than a decade drug related deaths DRD in Scotland have increased with the available evidence indicating poor alcohol and drug services outcomes in comparison to the UK and the rest of the Europe. During this period Scottish Government, significantly cut budgets for alcohol and drug services between 2007 -2019 from £114 million to £53.8 million per year.

In this article we explain how Scottish Government funding and policy decisions, centralising service provision, and closing third sector service providers, while relying on unpaid volunteers in recovery has contributed to increased risk of DRD among marginalised communities of interest, in our poorest communities.

In assessing evidence that challenged the Scottish Government narrative that DRD increases were attributable to a legacy of UK government economic policies before Scottish devolution in 1999 or that increased DRD could be explained by an ageing cohort, we reviewed the 2009 Audit Scotland report on drug and alcohol service provision. This was important as this report was published after the Scottish Government published the Road to Recovery strategy in 2008. This strategy concentrated on drug free recovery, citizenship, with a clear focus on the concept of recovery capital. The adoption of a narrow individualised conceptual approach to measuring recovery has clearly failed to reduce DRD. This strategy largely ignored structural and environmental risk factors for problematic drug use, and increased risk of DRD.


  • addiction
  • drug deaths
  • drug policy


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