Drug recovery campaigners are calling for the Finance Secretary to deliver a budget that will tackle the rising drug related death toll.

Faces and Voices of Recovery want Derek Mackay to provide at least £15.4million for rehabilitation when he sets the Scottish budget next month.

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The group FAVOR Scotland said that rehabilitation beds have been cut while drug deaths have risen to almost 1200 across Scotland.

The group has highlighted the drop in beds for residential rehab from more than 350 in 2007 to just 70 in 2018.

Drug-related deaths has more than trebled in Glasgow in that period and more than doubled across Scotland. 

In Glasgow in 2018 there were 280 drug related deaths, a rise of more than 40% from 2017 when it was 192.

In 2007 the number of people who died from drug related death in Glasgow was 90.

Across Scotland it was 455 deaths.

FAVOR argue that rehab is crucial in helping people recover from addiction and saves the taxpayer millions in the long run.

They want MSPs of all parties to back the call.

Annemarie Ward, FAVOR Scotland CEO, said: “We understand MSPs will be asking for a wide range of funding guarantees for the NHS, Police Scotland, homeless services and many other policy areas.

“But whatever other requests they make, we’re asking that every single MSP commits to only supporting the Scottish Budget if it also includes £15 million for drug rehabilitation beds.

“The rise in drug deaths has mirrored the lack of residential rehab beds. Since 2007, the number of rehab beds have plummeted at the same time as the number of people dying has surged.

“As a first step to helping people get better and saving lives, we need to see immediate re-investment in rehabilitation, starting with this budget.”

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The increase in rehabilitation budget is one of 23 recommendtions in the group’s report into drug deaths.

The £15.4 million figure was the fifth of 23 recommendations in FAVOR Scotland’s report on drug deaths. 

They want MSPs to sign a pledge they will not back the budget unless the £15m for rehab is included.

Natalie Maclean, FAVOR Scotland Community Director, said: “We’ve been saying for months that politicians keep talking and people across Scotland keep dying.

“Despite drug deaths hitting record highs last year, there has been a shocking lack of urgency from all sides. The lack of action means that it is likely the 2019 drug death figures will be even higher. That is unforgivable.

“So FAVOR Scotland are saying that in this Scottish Budget, MSPs can’t hide. They’ve got the chance to start saving lives and we’re not going to put up with any more excuses.

“If the Scottish Government are serious about tackling drug deaths, £15 million for drug rehabilitation beds is the absolute minimum we expect from this budget.”

The campaign also said there need to be more research into long term recovery instead of the short term effects of some treatments that do not “break the cycle of addiction.

It calls for a priority to be placed  on rehabilitation ahead of other suggestions like drug consumption rooms or decriminalisation to help people get into recovery who need it now.

On Thursday at Holyrood MSPs will debate Drugs and Alcohol – Preventing and Reducing Harms where various strategies will be considered.

The Scottish Government wants to have powers over drug laws transferred to Holyrood to allow for drugs policy to be a public health issue not criminal justice, to allow interventions like a drug consumption room.