Monday, November 05, 2012

Willie Rennie talks about drug treatment on Sunday Politics Scotland

Yesterday, Willie Rennie went on Sunday Politics Scotland to take part in a discussion about drug treatment with the SNP's Mark McDonald and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

The impression I've had from what Willie was saying is that he's fed up of politicians pontificating about stuff they know nothing about, and making sweeping pronouncements about care. He thinks that everyone's different, that what works for one might not work for another and it really needs to be left to health professionals on the ground to choose the best way of treating each individual from a range of options.

We've seen the use of Methadone come under attack by politicians and the media. Willie described the Daily Record's demonisation of methadone "deplorable."

Speaking ahead of his appearance on the programme, Willie was keen to stress that the debate on addiction must put medical necessity ahead of moral prejudice:

The debate around drug misuse and the connected methadone programme has taken a disturbing turn in recent months with moral rather than professional judgements dominating the drugs dilemma. Drug related deaths reached an all-time high last year so it is vital that we give professionals all the tools they need to help people, including tools aimed at reducing the harms associated with drug misuse.  
While much of the recent focus has been on the overall number of deaths in which methadone was involved, other substances were involved in nearly 60% of these deaths. This shows that drug addiction is an extremely complex issue.  The suggestion from Labour that methadone treatment should be time or cost limited risks undermining the work that drug professionals are doing every day in our communities. Methadone is responsible for saving and stabilising many lives and could be regarded as a success for thousands of individuals. 
The key issue is getting people into treatment as soon as possible and ensuring that a whole range of recovery options are available. Another big issue is whether individuals stay engaged with treatment and enjoy a good relationship with the key workers involved in their care. Every drug addict is different. There should be no one-size-fits-all approach. We need a flexible and patient focussed approach. Politicians should not seek to restrict options for moral reasons but ensure that trained professionals are able to deliver the service they think best for the patient. 
You can watch him here.

The Scottish Parliament will be debating drugs strategy from 2pm on Thursday 8th November. 

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