Scotland is not simply in a worse position than other nations in tackling drug deaths, it is “moving in the opposite direction”, a charity has claimed.

The first annual report by advocacy group, The Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) found there had been “almost no progress” towards reducing mortality rates, which are the worst in Europe and five times higher than England’s.

The charity said there had been acknowledgment by the Scottish Government but “no real exploration” of the reasons behind the grim statistics.

In 2021 1,330 people lost their lives to drug misuse in Scotland, an almost identical figures to the previous year’s, when an all-time record 1,339 deaths were recorded.

The latest figures show there were 562 suspected deaths in the first six months of 2022, a drop of 160 compared with last year.


The report said an “inordinate amount of time and energy” had been devoted to the provision of overdose drug naloxone and debating new strategies such as drug consumption rooms, when it could be better spent addressing systemic failures.

READ MORE: Suspected drug deaths 22% lower than last year according to police data

FAVOR said that in a quarter of cases, clients had requested residential rehab but in many cases this had been refused, agreed but not progressed or they had faced excessively long waiting lists.

In one case a man had been waiting three years for a bed which had been continually delayed until he “gave up”.

In some areas, no referrals were being made for residential rehabilitation services outside the local area.

This, the report said, had created a situation where people were having to wait for many months for a referral to a local facility while they were aware that beds lay empty elsewhere.

FAVOR said there had been a culture change within the recovery workforce in England where people with experience of addiction had been employed at every level and it urged the Scottish Government to follow.


The charity said most of its clients were not receiving any psychological support while other cases related to clients’ wishes to reduce their opiate substitute medication being refused or ignored.

READ MORE: Drug related deaths in England and Wales rise to record high 

The Blueprint to Save Lives report will be launched at Bluevale Community Centre in Glasgow today, one year after SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross held a one-off meeting at the same location to discuss the drug death crisis.

It makes six key recommendations, including more investment in community addiction charities in the most deprived areas, and increased referrals to residential rehabilitation.

The Scottish Government said it funded 511 residential placements last year and is aiming to ensure that by 2026 there is capacity for at least 1,000 people to be publicly funded to go to rehab every year.

Angela Constance, Drugs Policy Minister, said: “Anyone who needs support should have access to whatever type of treatment or recovery works best for them.
“ For some that will be Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), but it could be rehabilitation in the community or residential placements. 
“That’s why we are investing £100 million in residential rehabilitation over the course of this Parliament.”