Renfrewshire Council sets up alcohol and drugs commission
Councillor Jacqueline Cameron, pictured at the Sunshine Recovery Cafe in Paisley - Image credit: Renfrewshire Council
Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership has set up an alcohol and drugs commission – one of the first of its kind in Scotland.
Building on Renfrewshire Council’s previous tackling poverty commission, the commission will explore new ways of reducing the impact of drugs and alcohol, with a particular focus on prevention and early intervention.
In 2017, there were 38 drug-related deaths and 44 alcohol-related deaths in Renfrewshire.
Run in partnership with Renfrewshire Council, the commission will look at all aspects of addiction and its impact across a range of policy areas, not just addiction services.
It will take evidence from people who have lived experience of substance use and their family members and produce recommendations for improvement to services.
Made up of senior professionals from across health and social care, housing, justice, third sector and higher education, the commission will be chaired by Councillor Jacqueline Cameron.
Members also include NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde director of public health Dr Linda de Caestecker, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde associate medical director Dr Saket Priyadarshi and chief executive of the Scottish Recovery Consortium Jardine Simpson.
Cameron said: “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.
“We also know we are only dealing with the tip of the iceberg when we support those already in contact with the services available.
“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.
“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.”
De Caestecker said: "Alcohol is harming the people of Renfrewshire: not only those with serious alcohol problems but also the many people who are drinking above recommended levels and putting themselves at increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
“At the same time, there are deeply concerning trends in the harm being caused by problem drug use.
“I am therefore pleased that Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership is taking these issues so seriously and has established this commission to ensure everything that can done to address the problems of drugs and alcohol in this area is being done."
Simpson 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 early 2020 and will then report back with its findings and recommendations.