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Drug misuse: policy context

Under existing arrangements the treatment and prevention of drug problems is devolved to the Scottish Government, however the control of drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is reserved to the UK Government. Scottish Government officials keep in regular contact with the Home Office and other UK Government departments regarding reserved drugs policy.

Drug Treatment

The national strategy for drug misuse in Scotland, The Road to Recovery: A New Approach to Tackling Scotland's Drug Problem, 2008 was published in May 2008. It focuses on recovery, looking at treatment and rehabilitations, and also considers enforcement, and protecting children and communities.

The Road to Recovery: One Year On looks at the progress made and highlights the key strands of the drugs strategy going forward. The Scottish Government Drug Strategy Website has more information on the five key priorities of the strategy.

Prevention and treatment of substance misuse - Delivering the Right Medicine: A Strategy for Pharmaceutical Care in Scotland. (Scottish Government 2005). A report of a joint working group of the national pharmaceutical forum/Scottish medical and scientific advisory committee.

A review into the deliverance of opioid replacement therapy in Scotland was commissioned by the Chief Medical Officer and published in 2013.

In 2009 Audit Scotland examined the way drug and alcohol services were delivered in Scotland.

The Quality Principles: Standard Expectations of Care and Support in Drug and Alcohol Services was developed to ensure anyone wishing to address their problem drug and/or alcohol use receives high quality treatment and support that assists long term, sustained recovery and keeps them safe from harm.

The Developing Recovery Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC) through Service Redesign Driver Diagram is a tool to assist local areas with service planning and redesign to work towards the implementation of a ROSC.

Drug Use and Families/Communities

Hidden Harm: Next Steps, 2006: This report by the Scottish Government focuses on children and young people living in substance misusing households, and details actions and initiatives by the Scottish Government and other partners to protect and support them.

Health Harm

Mind the Gaps: Meeting the Needs of People with Co-Occurring Substance Misuse and Mental Health Problems, Scottish Government (2003).

The Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework 2011-2015 combines areas of work surrounding sexual health, HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B. It is a multi agency, cross agenda approach based on five high level outcomes.

The Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework 2015-2020 Update provides an update on progress made in relation to the 2011-15 Framework. This update should be read alongside the original policy framework document.

Policy Development

In response to the rise in novel psychoactive substances (NPS), the Scottish Government commissioned an expert review group to review the current legal framework available to Scottish public authorities to govern the sale and supply of NPS in Scotland who reported in February 2015.


Scottish National Framework for Problem Drug Users and Recovery: Problem drug use, the associated harms and an individual’s journey to recovery impacts on many aspects of Scottish life as a result this document was commissioned. It aims to further progress research in to problem drug use, the common co-morbidities associated with it and how individuals can recover from problem drug use, while also addressing associated issues.

Page last updated: 15 September 2017

© Scottish Public Health Observatory 2014