The first report of Public Health Scotland’s (PHS) evaluation of a Scottish Government programme relating to residential rehabilitation provision for people with substance use problems in Scotland has been published. 

The release presents findings from a baseline phase of the evaluation of the Scottish Government Residential Rehabilitation programme, a five-year programme launched in 2021 to help improve access to residential rehab for individuals who use alcohol or drugs. 

The overarching aims of the evaluation, which forms part of the wider PHS evaluation of the National Mission to reduce drug-related deaths, are to assess the impact of the programme on how residential rehab is organised, how easily it can be accessed and how well it delivers for individuals with substance use issues across Scotland. 

The baseline report found evidence to suggest some progress in improving access to residential rehab in Scotland has been achieved as a direct result of the programme. 

According to the report, to date there has been an estimated increase of 8% in residential rehab bed capacity. The research findings also suggest that there has been an increase in the number of publicly funded placements, with 812 rehab placements recorded as approved for public funding in Scotland in the last financial year. 

Barriers to accessing residential rehab do still exist however. The report includes results from a 2023 survey of those able to refer individuals for rehab in Scotland, which found that only 24% of respondents agreed that residential rehab is easily accessible. In another 2023 survey of individuals with experience of using drugs in Scotland, only 19% felt reasonably well informed about residential rehab.  

Other barriers identified in the report include long waiting times for detoxification, concerns about aftercare and post-rehab support, and lack of suitable provision for some groups; including those with caring responsibilities and mental health needs. 

Ruth Glassborow, Director of Population Health and Wellbeing at PHS, said:  

“This report is the first output of our independent evaluation of the Scottish Government Residential Rehabilitation Programme. We hope its baseline findings can support important discussions on residential rehabilitation in Scotland. 

“Our report found evidence suggesting some progress towards increasing access to individuals, however, there are still significant barriers that people face. There is also a risk of uneven progress across different parts of the country which may exacerbate existing health inequalities.  

“PHS will continue to evaluate the programme throughout the implementation period and will publish our final report after the programme finishes in March 2026.” 

View the full 'Evaluation of the Scottish Government Residential Rehabilitation Programme' report 

Last updated: 13 February 2024