SDF Statement on Recent Media Coverage

This week, SDF has been attacked through a Scottish media outlet.  We have been implicitly charged with being a cause of drug-related deaths in Scotland because we have advocated evidence-based interventions to reduce and prevent drug-related harms. This is both ridiculous and offensive.

SDF is a membership-based registered charity that receives funding and support from a wide range of agencies and individuals. It is not a QUANGO as has been stated in an ill-informed and malicious article.

The article focuses on methadone. SDF’s work is wide-ranging and includes training frontline staff in a whole range of services; supporting the development of local recovery-oriented systems of care; the award winning addiction worker training programme for people in recovery; work around the prevention and treatment of blood borne virus infections and bacterial infections; improving the sexual health of people who use drugs and supporting the supply of naloxone to people at risk of opiate overdose and those who work with them. Our work cannot be characterised as ‘promoting methadone’.

However, for the record, SDF does support opiate substitution therapy.

The reasons for this are easily stated and the journalist concerned was briefed to this effect.

  • Methadone is listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an Essential Medicine;
  • Methadone, along with buprenorphine, is the WHO’s recommended treatment for opiate dependency;
  • In terms of human rights, the Right To Health is defined by WHO in terms of accessing evidence-based treatment. Denial of Opiate Substitution Therapy, then, may breach the human rights of anyone dependent on heroin;
  • Opiate Substitution Therapy is widely available across Europe without the controversy that is sometimes stirred in Scotland.

SDF welcomes and promotes discussion on how people with drug problems can be better supported and their health and well-being improved. SDF advocates evidence-based supports to people with drug problems. This includes supports with housing, education, training and employment and mental and physical health. We also advocate that families, communities and others are adequately supported to prevent people developing drug problems in the first place.

We will continue this work knowing that we are working to promote the safety and well-being of some of Scotland’s most stigmatised and vulnerable people. We depend on, and enjoy, the support of our members and stakeholders across the drugs field and beyond in Scotland, and the confidence of colleagues in the UK and in Europe.

Scottish Drugs Forum has always worked with media colleagues believing that they have a role in improving understanding and discussion on drug-related issues. We will continue this work despite our disappointment that a media colleague who was adequately briefed on these issues allows SDF, its work and staff to be misrepresented in such a grossly offensive way.

SDF thanks members and others for their public and private messages of support received since the publication of the article. They are greatly appreciated.

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