Scotland's Approach to Drugs: Reducing Harm and Risk

Drug-related deaths in Scotland hit a record high in 2016, increasing by 23%. Scotland's DRD rate is over two-and-a-half times higher than the rest of the UK, begging the question, what next for Scotland's approach to drugs?

The context

In the wake of new figures around drug-related deaths and seemingly intractable issues with problematic drug-use in Scotland, there are significant challenges ahead for both law enforcement and health and social care services. 

Internationally and in Scotland, drugs policy is gradually shifting in focus from justice towards health and social care, recognising the need for treatment and support rather than criminalisation. The Scottish Government have committed to a refresh of the 'Road to Recovery' strategy and stakeholders are calling for bold action to prioritise risk and harm reduction. 

The event

Join us to examine what's next for Scotland's approach to drugs. We will explore current trends and demographics of drug-use in Scotland, the policy and legislative context and priorities for practice. We bring together expert speakers and delegates from across sectors to consider what more needs to be done to provide effective interventions, treatment and support which prioritise risk and harm reduction, tackle stigma and reduce drug-related deaths. 

Key issues to be addressed

  • Current drugs policy and the existing legislative framework
  • The effectiveness of the Scottish Government's ‘Road to Recovery’ strategy and the next steps for a refreshed strategy
  • Different approaches to drugs policy and examples of practice from within the UK and beyond
  • Priorities for health and social care services in Scotland and the latest evidence base for risk and harm reduction focused services
  • Priorities for the criminal justice systems approach to drugs in Scotland
  • Demographics of drug-users and current trends, patterns and changes across Scotland


09:15   Registration and Refreshments 

10:00   Session 1:  Policy Context and Update

10:00   Welcome and Introduction from the Chair

         Professor Catriona Matheson, Honorary Professor, University of Stirling and Trustee, The Society for the Study of Addiction

10:05  Refreshing the ‘Road to Recovery' Strategy

  • Outcomes from the ‘Road to Recovery’ Strategy
  • Future priorities for policy including latest developments surrounding the Scottish Government’s refresh

           Beverley Francis, Head of Substance Misuse Unit, Scottish Government

10:30   Current Drug-Use in Scotland: Trends and Demographics

  • The demographic of Scotland’s drug users
  • Key issues for tackling drug-related deaths and drug misuse going forward
  • Attitudes towards drug users in Scotland and tackling stigmatisation
  • The relationship between inequality and drug misuse in Scotland
  • Challenges of an ageing drug-user population and the impact on services

           David Liddell OBE​, Chief Executive Officer , Scottish Drugs Forum

10:50  Scotland in Context: Learning From Across the UK

  • Scotland's approach to drugs in the context of UK legislative and policy framework
  • Latest developments from the other home nations 

           Professor Harry Sumnall, Professor of Substance Misuse, Liverpool John Moores University

11:10   Questions and Discussion

11:30   Refreshments and Networking

11:50  Session 2: Evidence for Risk and Harm Reduction

Panellist will come together to examine topics including: 

  • Evidence-base for substance misuse prevention through health and social care services
  • Working with public agencies, local authorities and third sector to deliver safer outcomes for drug users
  • Understanding how to support older drug users with numerous health concerns
  • Strategies going forward: how the refresh of the ‘Road to Recovery’ strategy can be utilised to prevent Scotland’s increasing drug-related deaths 
  • Improving services through consultation and engagement: empowering communities to make decisions and deliver services

           David Liddell OBE​, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Drugs Forum

           James Shanley, Manager Harm Reduction and Prevention Lead, NHS Lothian

           Emma Crawshaw, Chief Executive Officer, Crew 2000

           John Holleran, Development Officer for Families and Communities, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs

12:50   Lunch and Networking

13:40  Session 3: Sharing Good Practice from Scotland and Beyond 

A series of case study examples will share insights and learning into innovative policy and practice from across the UK and beyond 

13:40  Reducing Harm through a Safe Drug Consumption Site

           Dr Saket Priyadarshi​, Associate Medical Director, Greater Glasgow and Clyde Addiction Services

14:00  Supporting Recovery in the Community

           Colin McGowan​, Chief Executive, and Lisa Kerr, PA, Hamilton Academical FC

14:20  Prescribing For Recovery: Alcohol & Drugs Action, Aberdeen Health & Social Care Partnership/NHS Grampian's Joint Initiative

  • Providing recovery support to long-term ORT users in General Practice
  • Supporting Recovery Goals whilst in Treatment
  • Staged Interventions with a focus on safety, wellbeing and social inclusion​

           Luan Grugeon, Chief Executive Officer, Alcohol & Drugs Action

14.40   Approaches to recovery in North Ayrshire

  • Cafe Solace: COSLA Excellence Gold Award 2017 - tackling inequalities and improving health; a co-production community engagement model
  • Peer monitoring support (reaching marginalised groups not accessing services), involving transitions from prison, residential and homeless settings with linkage to community provision; and supporting individuals accessing BBV treatment)

           Mark Gallagher, Lead Officer, North Ayrshire ADP, and John Aitken, ADP Peer Support Worker

14:50  Questions and Discussion

15:30  Event Close

*Agenda subject to change


NASUWT, 35 Young Street North Lane, Edinburgh | Map 


Delegate rates (excluding VAT)

  • Discounted rate: 1 place £145 + VAT (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: 1 place £245 + VAT | 2+ places £195 + VAT (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: 1 place £295 + VAT | 2+ places £245 + VAT (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For all event enquiries please email or call 0131 285 1635

5 December 2017



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