Annemarie Ward | Twitter
Annemarie Ward is Chief Executive Officer of Favor UK, a charity which exists to save and improve the lives of people affected by alcohol and other drugs and encourage a more balanced investment into treatment services. In that previous life Annemarie had addictions to various substances, In August 2020 Annemarie celebrated 23 years of complete abstinence from all mind and mood altering substances.
Give people with drug addiction a right to proper recovery. And give charities and communities the freedom to provide it. How to fix Scotland’s drug death shame.
We’ve been through another year of hand wringing, statements, nice words and drug deaths have been kicked into the long grass yet again.
Why? Because of the class of people who are dying. The national figures say it’s people in the poorest parts of Scotland that are 18 times more likely to die.
And, of course, the reason they all can keep kicking it into the long grass is because the communities devastated by these deaths don’t vote. Why would we?
The response to Scotland’s abysmal record on drug deaths has been incommensurable – we have know way to measure it.
"Last year in the under 65 age group twice as many people died from drugs than died from covid."
Last year in the under 65 age group twice as many people died from drugs than died from covid. Let that sink in. Twice as many.
Naloxone or drug consumption rooms will not put a dent in these figures. We’ve never met anyone who is ‘against’ naloxone or safe consumption rooms. No one is ‘against’ saving lives. But these need to be gateways into proper treatment – and neither can be called, or is, an alternative to it.
Last year, the BBC ran an article where a guy was given Naloxone FIVE TIMES, before being put on Buvidal as an alternative to methadone. Why did nobody ask why it took five times? Would we only offer a heart attack victim real help after five shots of a defibrillator?
People seeking treatment shouldn’t have time to wait months or in some case years for answers – too many already die begging for their lives.
The Right to Recovery Bill currently going through parliament – ‘oor bill’ – just looks for decision makers to make the right decision, to give people they help they need, when they need it.
It earned ‘full’ or ‘partial’ support from 78% of respondents. That support came mainly from the poverty and homelessness sectors but also a large chunk from civic Scotland organisations including the many churches and organisations which seek to comfort and alleviate those seeking but failing to get treatment every day.
Too many organisations in Scotland, especially third sector providers which attempt to challenge some of these failing practices are told “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”.
Yes, there is room for improvement in all our practice but it’s only the statutory services – the NHS services or Local Authority services – that self police/govern.
No one measures or evaluates the statutory services and there is absolutely no accountability. This is of course contrary to how they monitor and evaluate every single penny given out to the smaller 3rd sector orgs who have to justify within a hare’s breath their very existence often every 12 weeks.
People in recovery bring so much insight and learning that you’d think decision makers and budget holders would embrace then. Yet sadly we know this is extremely unlikely.
Engagement with lived experience is both steered and cherry picked and funnel through the same failing quangos who are paid the Scottish government’s shilling.
"How can we achieve true change when the status quo remains despite us being in the midst of a national emergency with an unacceptable level of people with unmet needs being failed by broken systems and non-existent services?."
How can we achieve true change when the status quo remains despite us being in the midst of a national emergency with an unacceptable level of people with unmet needs being failed by broken systems and non-existent services?
It would appear those of us who are shining a light are further demonised when in reality we are offering solutions to the change required within these frameworks we’ve had in place failing for far too long.
A level playing field of inspection and accountability would give us the tools needed and rebuild trust and relationships.
Not only should we put Lived Experience in the position to develop, evaluate and monitor this type of inspection and measure accountability we should also be investing in helping them develop and grow the threadbare services that already deliver on a shoestring.
The few Lived Experience organisations that currently exist in Scotland are saving lives everyday all day and more importantly are getting people into a position where they are having and enjoying lives of their own.
It is time for real rights, a foundation to build good policies on.
FAVOR UK, and those who helped draft” Oor Bill”, will not apologise for listening and fighting for rights to be real to those that need them. “Oor Bill” is “Their Bill”. They and we deserve it.