‘Only junkies’: how stigma and discrimination link to rise in drug deaths among Scotland’s poor

Iain McPhee, Barry Sheridan

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Abstract

In our 2020 paper we review the 2009 Audit Scotland report on drug and alcohol service provision, and the 2019 Audit Scotland report, and analyse the formula used to determine how funding is allocated to alcohol and drug partnerships, which then assign money to local services.

The 2019 Audit Scotland report indicated that annual funding of £73.8 million was being made available to services for drug-related issues. But our research (using the government’s funding formula) indicated that the actual figure was closer to £53.8 million annually.

The report’s additional £20 million included £10 million per year allocated for two years to the Drug Deaths Taskforce – an academic group that looks into research surrounding drug issues as opposed to a service on the ground for drug users.

We outline potential consequences associated with reducing funding to alcohol and drugs services. Cuts led to closures of local independent services provided by highly trained staff. This meant that alcohol and drugs services were being administered by centralised services such as the NHS and social work in locations that the most vulnerable and marginalised could not or would not travel to.

Keywords

  • drug policy
  • addiction
  • mortality
  • inequalities
  • poverty

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