Supporting recovery and reducing health inequalities
The recovery community in Scotland – the 12-step movement (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous) and the visible recovery movement (e.g. Scottish Recovery Consortium) – is vibrant and growing. Recovery groups played a vital role in supporting people in and entering recovery during the COVID-19 lockdown, ensuring that programmes and communities could remain virtually available, even in the face of the closure of other services. It is important that this contribution is acknowledged and built upon post-lockdown. To do so, SHAAP is calling for all parties and candidates to:
- Place lived and living experience at the centre of policy-making. In order to be effective, service providers must treat people with lived experience as equal partners in service design and delivery, and initiate peer-led support to reduce stigma.
- Promote better collaboration, co-ordination and integration between NHS Scotland, local Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) and the recovery community.
- Invest in recovery communities, particularly in more remote and rural areas where it may be harder for people to access the help and support they need.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated problems associated with alcohol harms such as social isolation, mental health challenges and deprivation, and it is likely that we are facing a period of economic downturn. These factors are all likely to impact health inequalities. Earlier this year, a ten-year review of the Marmot Report concluded that large funding cuts over the last decade had contributed to life expectancy in England stalling for the first time since 1900. It is essential that we do not allow a similar outcome in Scotland. SHAAP is therefore calling for:
- The introduction of a minimum income for healthy living to reduce poverty and health inequalities.
- The adoption of the Housing First strategy, and the trialing of Managed Alcohol Programmes, building on international experience with people with severe alcohol problems who require housing support.
- Sustained investment in youth services, and the provision of activities for young people so they can learn skills, develop relationships and have fun in alcohol-free environments.