Initiatives to address Scotland's drug problem are "hugely inefficient" due to the government's failure to learn from past mistakes, senior professionals have warned.
The Scottish Drugs Strategy Delivery Commission's (DSDC) first report on national drugs strategy The Road To Recovery has criticised the lack of "institutional memory".
Under the headline Repeating The Past, the commission said government has a tendency to "forget" lessons learned by previously ineffective initiatives and then effectively relaunch them.
The commission is an independent body of senior professionals from universities, industry, drugs charities, local authorities, police, an NHS board, a prison, and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.
The report stated: "Many DSDC members have been involved in national strategic work for over a decade and repeatedly raise concerns regarding the tendency for government to forget the processes and initiatives undertaken in the past and the lessons learned from this.
"New initiatives can reflect a relaunch of previous work, some of which may not have been effective. This pattern may reflect turnover of senior staff and ministers. As well as being demoralising for the field, this is hugely inefficient. DSDC recommends that the Scottish Government takes steps to improve its institutional memory."
The commission also criticised the separation of drugs and alcohol issues by the Scottish Government and previous administrations. The report stated that the national advisory committees, the Scottish Advisory Committee on Drugs Misuse and the Scottish Ministerial Advisory
Committee on Alcohol Problems, have been kept separate with different ministers and officials.
It added: "At every other level, including the local delivery system of ADPs (Alcohol and Drug Partnerships), it is clear that there are benefits and efficiencies from bringing these agendas closer together. DSDC recommends that the Scottish Government seriously considers how this could be achieved."
The report contains 23 recommendations to the Scottish Government which aim to increase the impact of the initiatives to address Scotland's drug problem.
DSDC chairman Dr Brian Kidd said: "We took a pro-active approach by taking evidence throughout 2010-11, regarding a range of key priority areas: to improve the safety of children affected by substance misuse; how local treatment services are changing to make recovery more likely; and examined local and national governance and quality processes to consider what progress changes in the delivery system has delivered."
The Press Association 20-10-11
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