Minister for drugs policy visits Renfrewshire rehab as drug deaths continue to rise

Scotland’s drug and alcohol policy minister, Christina McKelvie  with staff at Abbeycare in Erskine
Minister Christina McKelvie with staff at Abbeycare in Erskine -Credit:Submitted

A Renfrewshire rehab clinic has used a visit from a Scottish Government minister to call for more detox beds in the same week its revealed drug-related deaths have increased again.

Abbeycare welcomed the minister for drugs and alcohol policy Christina McKelvie to its Erskine centre to hear about its life-changing detoxification and rehabilitation programmes.

The visit took place in same week Public Health Scotland said the number of people dying after taking drugs is continuing to increase.

The national body revealed that drugs are suspected to have had a role in the deaths of 278 people between December 2023 and February 2024, representing an 11 per cent increase compared to the previous quarter.

It comes just weeks after experts in Renfrewshire said they believe the local authority area was following a similar trend.

Its police division, which takes in Inverclyde, suspects 66 people died due to drugs in 2023 – more than one person every week of the year.

Paul Bowley, chief executive of Abbeycare, believes that increased access to abstinence-based rehabilitation can play a crucial role in reducing the number of deaths caused by drugs in Renfrewshire and across Scotland.

Paul said: “We were incredibly pleased to welcome the minister to our centre in Erskine to discuss the work we do to support people in recovery from drug and alcohol addictions.

“This was an opportunity for her to hear first-hand from the people we treat about the life-changing impact that abstinence-based rehab and detox services can have.

“We believe that residential rehab has a key role to play in reducing the number of people dying in Scotland due to drugs and alcohol misuse, alongside other specialist crisis and stabilisation services.”

He added: “As well as increasing access by scaling up the number of rehab beds available nationally, the focus should be on quality recovery services with multidisciplinary supports such as nursing, counselling, aftercare and family support as provided by Abbeycare.”

Ten people from Renfrewshire were admitted to Abbeycare between April 2023 and April 2024 and a further two are due to attend the clinic this month.

Many more of the area’s most vulnerable people have been admitted to inpatient NHS facilities, with an additional 61 people being treated for substance abuse within that time.

Abbeycare’s centre at Erskine Mains House accepts admissions from across Scotland, including both private patients and local authority referrals.

It provides continuous care for people with alcohol and drug addictions all under one roof, offering supervised detoxification and rehabilitation combined with counselling, recovery care planning, family support and extensive aftercare to services.

Minister McKelvie told the Express: “I was pleased to get the chance to hear first-hand about people’s recovery journeys and Abbeycare’s work with those with problematic substance and alcohol use.

“This is supported by increased Scottish Government funding for residential rehabilitation placements via alcohol and drug partnerships.

“As part of our £250 million national mission on drugs, we’re taking a wide range of measures and improving access to residential rehab is a key part of our mission to save and improve lives.

“According to a recent Public Health Scotland report, the upward trend in placements suggests that the Scottish Government is on track to hit its target of 1,000 people publicly funded to go to rehab by 2026.”

Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) launched its holistic addictions and mental health recovery hub in 2022. Circle offers people recovering from alcohol and drug addition tailored support.

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