CHURCHES and Christian groups in Scotland are at the forefront of work to tackle addiction, a new report has found.
Faith groups have helped more than 2300 people to recover from drug addiction in the past decade, the report from the Evangelical Alliance and Share Scotland said.
Christian organisations currently offer more than one quarter of available beds in Scotland for the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction: 121 out of 418.
Drug-related deaths in Scotland reached a record 1339 in 2020: five per cent more than in 2019, and the most recorded since 1996. The country had by far the highest drug death-rate in Europe — three-and-a-half times that of England and Wales — although figures for 2021 have shown a slight fall.
The report, Stories of Hope: Addiction recovery, published last week, says: “Scotland has been marked by the devastating impact of drug and alcohol addiction in many ways. Today, the nation is at the forefront of addiction-related issues and deaths in Europe, with repercussions in health, economic, educational, and social challenges for families and communities in urban and rural environments.
“The widening mental-health crisis, socio-economic challenges, and limited clinical support, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, has led to the highest increase of addiction issues in over ten years.”
The Scottish government has pledged £50 million of funding over the next five years for community organisations that work to support recovering addicts, and it is hoped that the report will make the case for directing some of this new funding to pre-existing faith-based programmes.
The report showcases some of the projects offered by faith groups. These include the Havilah ministry at St Andrew’s, Arbroath, which serves more than 100 people each month at a drop-in service; and the Hebrides Alpha project, which offers a residential recovery programme in the Western Isles.
Residential rehabilitation programmes run by faith groups have a high success rate: all respondents to an online survey of Christian groups in the sector reported more than a 50-per-cent success rate, with an average of 66 per cent.
Liam, one of the recovering addicts quoted in the report, said: “My whole life I struggled with fear and anxiety as a result of traumatic experiences from my childhood.
“After 20 years of using drugs and alcohol to ease the pain, I was reduced to a level of brokenness I never quite thought possible. If it were not for the Haven [one of the Christian groups in the report], I would probably be dead, and my family devastated.
“I can never repay the staff for the impact they’ve had on me, and my family’s lives. Jesus still saves people, he still heals people, and he still changes people’s lives. I am living proof of it.”
The director of Evangelical Alliance Scotland, Fred Drummond, said: “This report shows that Christians, fuelled by the love of God, are engaging with people going through the darkest of times, and walking with them into a place of hope.”