‘What about Families?!’ – Our Companion Report to the Final Report from the Drug Deaths Taskforce

The Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce has today published its final report ‘Changing Lives’ that sets out the evidence-based strategy for ‘turning the tide of Scotland’s drug deaths crisis.’

The Scottish Families’ Family Reference Group which supported the national Drug Deaths Taskforce has today published its own companion report alongside the office Taskforce report, called ‘What about Families?!’

Families hope that the Taskforce and the Scottish Government will consider their reflections and recommendations to inform future developments, including the need for meaningful involvement of families, and ensuring their views are respected and drive real change.

Scottish Families’ Family Reference Group is made up of family members across Scotland who are affected by a loved one’s drug use. This includes those whose loved ones are in recovery, are still actively using substances, and those who have been bereaved. The Group is chaired by Colin Hutcheon who was the sole family member representative on the Drug Deaths Taskforce.

Justina Murray, CEO of Scottish Families, comments:

“There is much to welcome in today’s final report by the Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce. Indeed many of the recommendations mirror the changes and improvements which families have been campaigning for over many years.

“The Taskforce has helpfully brought together new partnerships and additional resources, along with a level of political expectation and a willingness to test out new approaches. Families and others with lived experience have been involved from the start, which is good practice. There have been times where we have felt frustrated at the pace of change or questioned if there was more lived experience involvement than influence, however the final report makes a number of powerful recommendations which have the potential to reduce drug-related harm and risk to families and their loved ones.

“There have been some notable successes over the lifespan of the Taskforce, such as the national naloxone roll-out and the drafting of national standards for Medication Assisted Treatment. The commitments to expanding support for families in their own right, and to mandatory workforce training in family inclusive practice are particularly welcome. Families are frequently judged, stigmatised and excluded by services, and only reach family support at a time of crisis, after many years of coping alone. We also welcome the significant expansion in access to life-saving naloxone treatment, including the ongoing commitment to a national Click and Deliver naloxone service. This follows the successful establishment of Scottish Families’ service during the pandemic, proving that many family members and members of the public want to carry naloxone, so they can save a life.

“Families want to see a firm focus now on implementation and accountability, so that these written words become tangible actions, and families can see and feel real change in their own lives and in their local communities.”

You can read our report here – What about Families?!

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