The Scottish Conservative party have announced a strategy aimed at supporting drug users in Scotland and they have said that pharmacists are central to its delivery.
The strategy called ‘Life Plan’ is based on the premise that “drug users don’t need a drugs plan to help them manage their addiction, they need a life plan to help them end their addiction.” The Scottish Conservatives believe “virtually every problem drug user can be brought off drugs and supported back to a functioning lifestyle.”
At the centre of the plan is a call to give every problem drug user in Scotland a “personalised Life Plan” to support and sustain their transition from addiction back to a functioning life.
The strategy announced today sets out steps to deal with first first-time offenders to ensure their “first time is also their last time.”
The strategy calls for the following:
- Local Commissions for individuals caught for the first time in possession of drugs.
- An independent review of methadone.
- A redesign of alcohol and drug services.
- The redirection of funds into rehabilitation, recovery and abstinence.
- More prison-based interventions followed by transitional and long-term support for addicts.
- Increased peer support, employability and education programmes.
- A third sector led recovery taskforce.
As part of the strategy, the Scottish Conservatives would like to look at the potential for pharmacists to review methadone usage. They recognise that pharmacists probably have more contact with treatment-seeking addicts, especially heroin addicts, than any other professional group. The requirement for daily dispensing and supervision of methadone often means a pharmacist will see a patient six times each week. Although these are often brief contacts they exceed the weekly, or even monthly, key working sessions provided by staff at the community drug team (CDT). They have said that contact with the pharmacist will almost certainly exceed any contact with a doctor.
Under the Scottish Conservative ‘5-point pharmacy plan’, they called for pharmacists to be given the right to access patient’s records. These powers would aid pharmacists in reviewing a patient’s methadone and in turn help ease the pressure on GP’s.
Matt Barclay Director of Operations Community Pharmacy Scotland commented;
“The ‘Life Plan’ published today by the Scottish Conservatives is a useful addition to the debate on how best to support people with challenging addictions.
“Community pharmacists are recognised as part of a complex solution to support the best health outcomes for those who are, or have been, drug users. We would welcome any evidenced-based solutions in the areas outlined in the document where community pharmacy could play its part.”
Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary said:
“Scotland is facing a drugs crisis. As many as 1000 Scots are expected to die from drug-related deaths this year alone. Drugs wreck families, destroy lives and are holding back some of our poorest communities. The SNP Government’s efforts to reduce drug misuse have failed and the crisis is getting worse.
“The Scottish Conservative plan is based on a simple premise: users don’t need a drugs plan to help them manage their addiction, they need a life plan to help them end their addiction. We believe every problem drug user can be brought off drugs and supported back to a functioning lifestyle. So, at the centre of our plan is a call to give every problem drug user in Scotland a personalised Life Plan to support and sustain their transition from addiction back to a functioning life.
“We also believe we will have the most impact by getting in early. So our strategy today sets out radical steps to deal with first-time drug offenders – to ensure their first time is also their last time. It would be their choice – take responsibility for yourself and your actions, and you get a second chance and avoid a criminal record. Offend again, and you can expect to feel the full force of the law.
“That’s a fair deal for drug users and communities. It’s a fair deal that we now need the SNP Government to support. A decade ago Scottish Conservatives asked SNP Ministers to lead a step change to address the growing drugs crisis in Scotland. Today that crisis has reached new levels and the need for fresh thinking and a new national approach is critical.”