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Major Breakthrough in Scotland’s Drug Deaths Fight

Independent Report Highlights Stunning Success of New Approach and Shows a Clear Way Forward

A pilot scheme trialling a ‘wrap around’ approach to people at extreme risk – the Overdose Response Team – which has supported more than 800 since its launch in late 2020 has been hailed as a game changing innovation with the overwhelming majority of the sample interviewed for the report said the new service had undoubtably saved their lives.

The report also gives a clear insight into why so many Scots are at risk, who is most vulnerable and when, and the dangerous circumstances to look out for which can otherwise lead to tragedy:

“They brought me back from the brink of death. My compass had gone. Looking back, I had wanted someone to talk to, someone to help me know what to do. You know when someone comes to you, like they did, you feel that bond.” (Donald)

“Being in this place on my own in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t know it and I was not in a good place…The biggest part of relapse is isolation and just that feeling of being disconnected…They should not be putting people into a flat with a blow up bed and no life skills. The lack of support needs to change…the (recovery) groups I would normally go to were miles away. I had no family there either… I know that I need people round and about me that make me feel that sense of belonging and I am not alone.” (Peter)

“When I came out I was told I was £50 in debt (in electricity) but then the Team called and got that wiped and then I got a £20 credit put on…It is good that they come to you…I didn’t have a phone so they got me that. I was able then to call social work. They bought me food, toiletries, a kettle, essential food, bread, milk, cheese. I hadn’t had any food that week.” (Simon)

Patricia Tracey, Turning Point Scotland Head of Alcohol and Other Drugs said:

The report makes clear there has been massive step forward. What we now have is an approach tailored to Scotland’s needs. The evidence is here that the pilot phase itself has already saved hundreds of lives and what could be further achieved once established and rolled out nationally.

Catriona Matheson, ex Chair of the Drug Death Taskforce who funded the initial test said:

This is the most significant and positive development in the last 2 years, and the even better news is that this independent report gives clear evidence on how even more lives can be saved through a national roll-out, and better collaboration of health and emergency service, and information sharing between partners.


The full report is available here: Overdose Response Teams Evaluation Intrim Report - May 2022

The report summary is available here: Overdose Response Team Interim Evaluation Summary - May 2022

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