A move to enshrine in law the right to addiction treatment can be a “game-changer” in the war against drugs deaths in Scotland, it has been claimed.
Legislation being brought forward by the Scottish Conservatives seeks to guarantee that everyone has the right to receive potentially life-saving treatment and support.
And the Right to Recovery Bill, if passed, would also include the right to access residential rehabilitation where appropriate.
The party’s leader, Douglas Ross, will submit the final proposal for the legislation at the Scottish Parliament on Monday.
It comes after a consultation period which found support for the Bill from a number of charity organisations.
Ahead of brining forward the legislation at Holyrood, Ross insisted that radical but practical action is needed to tackle the “national tragedy” of drug-related deaths.
Figures by the National Records of Scotland figures showed that 1339 people lost their lives to drugs Scotland in 2020.
The Scottish Government has pledged to tackle the crisis, with drugs policy minister Angela Constance declaring it a public health emergency after she was appointed to her role last year.
“Scotland has the worst record in Europe for drug deaths. This is a national tragedy that ought to shame the SNP Government who have presided over the huge rise in numbers,” said Ross.
“There is no, one silver bullet in the fight against drug and alcohol deaths but I firmly believe Right to Recovery can be a game-changer.
“That’s because it has been drafted with the help of those with lived experience of addiction, and it will tackle one of the biggest obstacles to recovery those with addictions face: the scarcity of treatment available.
“Today it moves another step closer to the statute book, when I formally submit the final proposal to parliament.”
Ross insisted that it is now time for politicians to enact the legislation, after the positive response from groups that responded to the consultation.
“I would urge MSPs from across the parliament to back Right to Recovery,” said the Scottish Conservative leader.
“The current approach to drug and alcohol addiction clearly isn’t working, so radical but common-sense action is required – and this bill is that.
“The response to it from stakeholders – including charities, support groups, tenants’ associations and churches – was overwhelmingly positive at the consultation stage. Now it’s time for us politicians to get it enacted.”
Angela Constance said she had an open mind about whether legislation was needed.
“Once the Bill has been published and I and others have had the opportunity to ensure that it will do what it says on the tin, I will give a view on it,” she explained.
“I have an open mind about whether, at some point, we need to legislate.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We will consider the draft Right to Recovery Bill and will respond in due course.
“Every drug death is a tragedy and we are committed to working across Government, Parliament and beyond, to deliver the National Mission to save and improve lives.
“As part of our national mission to tackle the drug deaths emergency we’ve allocated an additional £250m over five years to improve and increase access to services for people affected by drug addiction – that includes investment of £100m on residential rehabilitation to increase capacity and improve pathways to expand access to services for the most vulnerable.
“That investment will support delivery of our commitment to increasing the number of publicly funded residential rehabilitation placements by more than 300% by 2026.”