Person-centred addiction services ’long way’ off

Wednesday 3rd July 2019

The head of a charity helping families support relatives grappling with alcohol and drug addiction is expressing concerns Scotland’s project to integrate health and social care is leaving addiction services behind.

Justina Murray, chief executive of Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs, tells there is still a “long way to go” when it comes to building addiction services that fit a person.

In 2017, 934 Scots died as a result of drugs and it’s predicted the next round of statistics will show a ‘significant increase’ to more than 1,000.

Scottish Families is launching a new campaign to highlight the hidden contributions of families who fight to keep loved ones grappling with addiction alive.

Speaking to at the launch of #BehindTheNumbers, Ms Murray says that, while health and social care integration has brought a more person-centred approach elsewhere, addiction services are often left behind.

“Health and social care has been a slow integration and even where they have integrated services, addiction services still seem to be working in very separate teams and silos,” Ms Murray says.

“There is a long way to go, and you don’t need integration to treat people with dignity and respect and to offer a holistic service.

“Report after report comes out showing the same things – that we need ‘stickable’, holistic services that are person-centred. We need people to have key workers or mentors to help them navigate services.

“These are not new lessons and I do feel in Scotland we have quite progressive policies – we have a great strategy in Rights, Respect & Recovery – but actually it’s the translation of policy into practice which is challenging and I think there is a very medical model around addictions which is not necessarily helpful.

“A more holistic, person-centred model would help people access the support they need for all of the issues that need addressed in their lives, and to help them build a new life.

“Services in communities need to be linked but there can be a disconnect between addiction services, families and communities.”