Stigma recovery support vital to supporting addiction survivors

Helping former addicts enhance their life skills has to form a central plank of future drugs recovery plans, say the Scottish Greens.

Party health spokesperson Gillian Mackay has met people who say their recovery would be enhanced by skills development help, and urged the Scottish Government to do all it could to help during a debate in Parliament today. She said:

“We know that for many recovery is life long, challenging and not always a linear path. I have had the privilege to speak to many in recovery and I think currently there is a piece we are not talking about enough in terms of keeping people well once they have completed treatment with acute services.

“I visited a Lanarkshire recovery community and a young woman spoke to me of how having stopped using drugs she had to rebuild her life. Often we think about the structural things that people need such as housing and income.

“She told me about the impact of not having hobbies or not even knowing what food she liked and disliked had on her. She told me how when going for job interviews and answering questions like ‘so what do you like to do in your spare time’ were daunting.

“She believed that society expected you to have that all figured out by the time you are an adult and that for those without already established family or friend support mechanisms providing access to courses or groups could help some find out these things about themselves as well as connecting them to their communities.

“Since then I’ve heard this from other people in recovery too and I wanted to thank them for their open and honest reflections. Some told me that even with strong community links they felt a sense of embarrassment in not knowing what they liked and disliked.

“This is another type of stigma that we need to tackle.”

Ms Mackay, who has been responding to the Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce report, added:

“I’ve said many times before that the misuse of drugs act is out of date and now hindering some of the good work that is being done.

“The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh have referenced decriminalisation again. As a party we support this and have previously welcomed the decision of diversion from prosecution from the Lord Advocate.

“I think broadly across the Chamber we recognise that while there is a part to play for the justice system that we need a public health approach to what is a public health emergency.”