The author of draft legislation to ensure drug and alcohol users can access recovery has said she is “devastated” that she had to rely on the Conservatives to take it forward.

Anne Marie Ward, chief executive of the UK charity, Faces and Voices of Recovery (Favor), and a former member of the SNP, told The Herald she had “no real choice other than to trust” Douglas Ross’s party as they were the only ones willing to take the Right to Addiction Recovery Bill forward.

“But actually after we spoke to them they told us their own personal stories of loved ones that they had lost that had not had access to treatment, and we were convinced that they were serious,” she said. “They weren't just playing political football with it.”

The new legislation - tabled in Holyrood on Wednesday - gives those with addiction issues access to appropriate treatment as soon as practicable, and within three weeks at most.

Official data from the National Records of Scotland showed 1,051 people died from drugs misuse in 2022 and 1,276 from alcohol in the same year.

Police Scotland figures published in March this year estimated 1,197 drug-related deaths in 2023.

READ MORE: Swinney urged to throw weight behind Tory Drug recovery Bill

The Bill was developed in conjunction with FAVOR and others.

According to the financial memorandum, providing residential rehabilitation spots as set out in the legislation would cost between £28.5m and £38m a year.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said Bill was not controversial.

"It’s not partisan. It’s a Bill that seeks to save lives. We know that Scotland has an appalling record for drug and alcohol deaths and it’s not just the worst in the UK, but the worst anywhere in Europe, so something must be done.”

He said the Bill on its own was not a “silver bullet”.

Mr Ross said “far too many lives have been lost” during the long process of introducing the Member’s Bill.

He added: “This crisis is our national shame and our most vulnerable cannot continue to see those in charge fail to take the necessary and decisive action required to save lives."

Speaking to the Herald at the Holyrood launch, Ms Ward said MSPs would need to explain why they would not back the Bill.

“It's a very simple, straightforward Bill. I think we've made the case and so have all the families that have lost loved ones and the thousands that continue to die every year that the case has already been made.

“It's up to the politicians to prove to us now why they can't support it.”

She added: “My personal politics at the time when we started this process, I was a member of the SNP and my friend Stevie who helped me write it was a long term supporter of the Labour Party, so we were both pretty gutted when the Tories took it foward.

“But actually after we spoke to them they told us their own personal stories of loved ones that they had lost that had not had access to treatment, and we were convinced that they were serious on they weren't just playing political football with it.

“So we would actually have no real choice other than to trust them actually, but we were convinced by their own personal stories that many of them had suffered in the same way that we have.”

The Herald: Annemarie Ward of FAVOR (Faces and Voices of Recovery)

Ms Ward said other charities and organisations working with alcoholics and drug users should back the Bill.

“Various elements of the sector work in isolation, conflict, competition with each other, so I gave up a long time ago trying to persuade them to work in unity but what this might do is convince them that there's more money if we get this passed.

“There's more money for them all. There's more investment for them all.

“And you know, instead of them all fighting for the crumbs, which is what they currently do, this would provide an actual buffet that they can all dine out at.

“So if they can't get their heads around that they need to wake up.”

READ MORE: Alcohol addiction in Scotland and the obstacles to recovery

First Minister John Swinney has promised the Scottish Government will take the draft legislation “very seriously.”

“We have only just seen the details of that this morning. So my officials and the Drugs and Alcohol Minister Christina McKelvie are looking at the terms of that Bill as we speak.

“The assurances I can give is that the government will take this Bill very seriously, that we will engage constructively in a spirit of goodwill to identify if there are provisions within it can be taken forward sustainably, and can have an effect on tackling the drugs crisis.

“We all want to tackle the drugs issue within our society. I welcome the contribution that Douglas Ross has made, and the government will engage constructively in that respect.”