Dundee’s highest rate of deaths on record is a “clear” sign that treatment services to be examined in the city, Joe FitzPatrick says.
Drug users say their progress is often hindered more than helped by the integrated substance misuse service (ISMS) at Constitution House – the city’s main source of prescriptions.
They say prescribing staff are not readily available, with delays to prescriptions for opiate replacements like heroin or buprenorphine.
The Scottish Drugs Forum also has concerns over whether services prescribe strong enough doses.
In half of the opiate fatalities in Dundee last year, victims had methadone in their systems, suggesting they may have “topped up” sub-par prescriptions.
The ISMS is being redesigned but is expected to face tough scrutiny in the Dundee Drugs Commission’s report next month.
Mr FitzPatrick said: “Those 66 deaths show it is absolutely clear that we need to look at how services work here in Dundee, which is what the commission is doing.
“That will be published in the coming weeks so it’s important the service in Dundee considers that report very carefully.
“Looking at the figures I can see that in Dundee in particular there has been an improvement in waiting times, with around 90% of people seen within the three-week (referral) target.
“Other services are also needed around people as well – they have to wrap around the person to make sure they get into recovery.
“One of the biggest challenges is finding appropriate housing for people. You can see how difficult it can be for someone if their housing situation is not stable.”
Mr FitzPatrick has also praised the grassroots recovery movement for its efforts in helping those being treated to start over.
Such movements, however, are often born from frustration with existing services, which should – but don’t – help people move on from treatment.
Mr FitzPatrick said: “The fact that the recovery moments are grassroots is a good thing.
“I take lived-in experience very seriously and services should learn to work together with (recovery groups).
“They need to change themselves to get people into the recovery that they need.”
- Read more on Mr FitzPatrick’s solutions to treating drug addiction by clicking here.