About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) reports on waiting times for people accessing specialist drug and alcohol treatment services between 1 January and 31 March 2023. In 2011, the Scottish Government set a Standard that 90% of people referred for help with problematic drug or alcohol use will wait no longer than three weeks for specialist treatment that supports their recovery. Amongst Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADP), eight services out of 204 were excluded due to the absence of complete data.

Main points

  • As at the quarter ending 31 March 2023, 11,204 referrals were made to community-based specialist drug and alcohol treatment services: 5,650 (50%) were for problematic use of alcohol, 4,311 (38%) for problematic use of drugs, and 1,243 (11%) for co-dependency.
  • 7,716 referrals to community-based services started treatment during the quarter. Overall, 92% involved a wait of three weeks or less. Eleven of the 14 NHS Boards met the Standard and three did not (Highland; 87%, Lothian; 84%, and Shetland; 71%).
  • Nationally, the Standard was met for referrals to community-based services across all substances: problematic use of drugs (95%), co-dependency (93%) and alcohol (90%).
  • At the end of the quarter, 2,183 community-based service referrals had not started treatment. Of these, 286 (13%) involved a wait of more than three weeks.
  • The most common treatments commenced during the quarter at community-based services were structured preparatory interventions (45 to 51% across substance types), and community-based support and/or rehabilitation (34 to 42% across substance types).
  • 842 referrals were made to prison-based services during the quarter. Of these, 687 (82%) were for people seeking help for problematic use of drugs.
  • 392 referrals to prison-based services started treatment during the quarter. Of these, 94% involved a wait of three weeks or less (co-dependency; 100%, alcohol; 97%, and drugs; 92%).
Image caption Percentage of completed community referrals with a wait of three weeks or less, by NHS Board (1 January 2023 to 31 March 2023)


These data were extracted from the Drug and Alcohol Information System (DAISy) and its predecessor the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Waiting Times (DATWT) database.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 26 September 2023.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.drugsteam@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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