Renfrewshire alcohol & drugs commission launches

Collective response from all services key as commission seeks “true picture” of effects of drugs & alcohol

Monday 1st July 2019

A group dedicated to addressing the impact of alcohol and drug use on individuals and families has been set up in Renfrewshire.

Early intervention, prevention and hearing from those with lived experience will be the focus of the new taskforce.

The Renfrewshire community planning partnership's alcohol and drugs commission - one of the first of its kind in Scotland - will explore new ways of tackling substance misuse through hearing first-hand from people who have experience of alcohol and drug misuse, and their family members.

In 2017, there were 934 drug-related deaths across Scotland – 38 of which were in Renfrewshire. In the same year, there were 1,120 alcohol-related deaths across Scotland – 44 of which were in Renfrewshire.

Comprising key figures from health and social care, housing, justice, third sector and higher education, the commission is run in partnership with Renfrewshire Council and will consider policy across areas including the support for people most in need, prevention and early intervention, and recovery.

Chaired by Councillor Jacqueline Cameron, the commission also includes Linda de Caestecker, director of public health at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde; Dr Saket Priyadarshi, associate medical director at the health board; and Jardine Simpson, chief executive of the Scottish Recovery Consortium.

"We know the devastating impact that alcohol and drug use has not only on the individuals affected, but also their friends and families and the wider community,” says Councillor Cameron.

“We also know we are only dealing with the tip of the iceberg when we support those already in contact with the services available.”

Building on Renfrewshire Council's successful tackling poverty commission and ongoing programme, the alcohol and drugs commission will look at all aspects of addiction and its impact, as opposed to concentrating solely on addiction services, and will identify recommendations to help improve the lives of those affected.

“If we want to make a difference we have to do things differently and as a local authority we are uniquely placed to bring people round the table to help make that difference and find solutions that will work,” Councillor Cameron added.

"To continue to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Renfrewshire, and to allow everyone to fulfil their potential, it's essential for us to identify the people who are in most need of our help.

“To do this, we need to gain a true picture of how drug and alcohol use is impacting upon the lives of people of all ages and look closely at how we use early intervention and prevention to support people affected by alcohol and drug use.  

"The work of the alcohol and drugs commission builds on the work of our previous Tackling Poverty Commission, the findings of which have since delivered real benefits for families across the area.

"By working with partners and agencies across a whole range of services including housing, education, and health and social care, we want to identify key priorities to make a significant difference to Renfrewshire and the people who live here."

Jardine Simpson, chief executive of the Scottish Recovery Consortium, said: "I am excited to be part of the Renfrewshire Alcohol and Drugs Commission.

“This is an innovative and crucial approach to scoping out how Renfrewshire can enhance its response to problematic drug and alcohol use collectively.

"Under the new Scottish Government Drug and Alcohol Strategy, people with lived experience of problematic substance use and recovery are being placed at the heart of treatment and support responses.

“The voice of lived experience has much to inform the decision making around problematic substance use and I am encouraged by Renfrewshire's commitment to this.

"The harms caused by problematic substance use impact on every family, every community and every one of us in Scottish society in 2019.

“Renfrewshire Council's whole system approach is commendable and could act as a template for other local authorities across Scotland to improve how they respond to the harms of problematic substance use."

The Commission is expected to conclude in the 2020 new year and will then report back with a series of findings and recommendations.