Drink and drug abuse costs Scotland £5billion every year

The breakdown shows health boards and councils forked out £77 million on drug services in 2007 and just under £26 million on alcohol services.
Drug and alcohol abuse is costing Scotland nearly £5billion a year, according a report by the watchdog Audit Scotland. The breakdown shows health boards and councils forked out £77million on drug services in 2007 and just under £26million on alcohol services.
The report said spending patterns did not always reflect national priorities or need, and funding arrangements are often “complex and fragmented”.
Death rates for alcohol and drug abuse in Scotland are amongst the highest in Europe and have doubled in the last 15 years. This is while rates decrase in other parts of Europe. The number of alcohol-related deaths in 2007 was 1,399 – compared to 455 drugs-related deaths.
The report has called for a more co-ordinated approach to services.
Auditor General Robert Black said: “The range of services for people in need of help can depend on where they live and there is not enough information about the effectiveness of these services.”
Scottish ministers have not set out minimum national standards that victims and their families can expect from drug and alcohol services. The report says ministers need to work with the NHS, councils and others to ensure they all know their responsibilities. While recent Scottish Government strategies have a focus on prevention, only 6 per cent of direct spending was on preventive activities.
Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said: “This report came about as a result of Scottish Conservative pressure in the 2008 budget. We suspected there was chaos in how funding streams were directed towards addressing addiction. The horrific truth has now been exposed and I am shocked at the sheer scale of the drugs and alcohol problem in Scotland.”
Labour’s Cathy Jamieson added: “I am particularly concerned that Audit Scotland’s report states that the Scottish Government is not funding services in the most effective way as they have no way of measuring performance. This is completely unacceptable and must change.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said the Government had asked for the report and welcomed its findings. He added: “It details the system we inherited from the previous administration.” The spokesman also said spending on drug and alcohol services had increased.

Source: www.stv.tv 26 March 2009,

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