Kirk is a leader in drugs support services

Support services run by the Church of Scotland’s social care arm enable many drugs users to recover and live free from substance abuse.

Vic Walker, head of service at CrossReach, said clients are encouraged to “reach their full potential” and many use their experiences to inspire others who are struggling with addiction.

Through CrossReach, the Kirk runs recovery orientated support services in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Angus, Dundee and the Outer Hebrides.

CrossReach is the social care arm of the Church of Scotland

Mr Walker expressed sadness after official figures showed that the number of drug-related deaths in Scotland last year totalled 867, a rise of 23% on 2015.

By contrast, 426 fatal overdoses were recorded in 1995.

The National Records of Scotland figures showed more than 70% of deaths were among people aged 35 or over.

Mr Walker described the number of drugs related deaths in Scotland in 2016 as a “national and personal tragedy" for those involved – each one was a son or daughter and, in many cases, a father or mother.

"We all need to consider what more we can do to help address this dreadful problem," he added.

Value of individuals

But Mr Walker said the figures masked the true extent of the problem because many more people pass away from the complications of long term drug misuse.

“The statistics tell us that being in treatment is a protective measure," he added.

“CrossReach has a long history of helping people to change their lives and move away from the destructive nature of substance misuse.

“We have a range of services spread across Scotland and accept referrals to our residential units from any part of the country.

“We are working hard to ensure our services continue to offer the right level of support when people need them.

"We welcome the “Staying Alive in Scotland – Strategies to Combat Drug Related Deaths” report and we recently contributed to the recent Older People with Drug Problems report.

“But we are concerned that services are at risk, due to requirements for cost savings, at a time when they are needed more than ever.


Mr Walker said CrossReach believed that every person mattered and is of worth and value.

“We offer a range of Harm Reduction and Abstinence focused services which allow people to engage and to progress in their recovery,” he added.

“In this process we work with families and other partners to help people achieve positive outcomes.

“Despite the sad news of the figures, we know that many people who use our services go on to live lives free from substance misuse and use their experiences to help and inspire others.

“We believe that these great examples have an important role to play in reducing the number of people in who are misusing and dying from substances.

“Over the past five years, our Recovery Volunteer Programme has trained and equipped people to progress and to work in the field of substance misuse.”