A THIRD of drug addicts who want help in the Capital have been waiting more than a year for treatment.
Figures out today reveal there were more than 200 people waiting more than a year in the city up until March, 36 per cent of those addicts seeking help.
The picture for East Lothian is not much better, at 34 per cent.
Nationally, one-fifth of addicts face a wait of more than a year.
The delay has been blamed on a lack of resources, with organisations predicting the problem is only likely to get worse as councils and health boards cut their cloth through the recession.
Warnings have also been issued that leaving drug users in limbo waiting for treatment is only heightening their chances of worsening addiction.
However, health chiefs insisted that changes in reporting of figures led to the apparent increase, and that by the time the next round of statistics were released, the picture would have changed dramatically.
Glenn Liddall, manager of the Simpson House drug counselling service, said that as more people were struggling financially there was a risk even more would turn to drugs.
"It's all about resources – there just isn't the money or the people to cope," he said.
"The Scottish Government is now putting a lot of focus on this and hopefully that can make some impact. The problem is, if someone is on drugs and then gets the motivation to get help and phone up, it is completely demoralising for them when they see how long they have to wait.
"It is a difficult group to deal with, and in that time all kinds of things can happen which wastes that motivation they once had to beat addiction."
The figures released by ISD Scotland – the official compiler of health statistics – show that in Midlothian 13 per cent of addicts were waiting for more than a year, one percentage point more than in West Lothian. The figures also show that 14 per cent of the 584 addicts seeking help in Edinburgh were seen within a week.
NHS Lothian recently announced it was to put drug-addicts into a waiting times structure to give them some kind of parity with cancer and hip replacement patients.
Mr Liddall added: "It's not in anyone's interest to have this delay; patients, families and society in general all suffer."
Jackie Sansbury, NHS Lothian's director of strategic planning and modernisation, said patients being prioritised was also a necessary element to consider.
She added: "We are aware that some people have waited longer than we would like."
By Adam Morris
Source - http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Third-of-drug-addicts-face.5472531.jp