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 October and 31 December 2022. 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), ten services, out of 204, were excluded due to the absence of complete data.

Main points

  • During the quarter, 9,845 referrals were made to community-based specialist drug and alcohol treatment services: 5,029 (51%) were for problematic use of alcohol, 3,698 (38%) for problematic use of drugs, and 1,118 (11%) for co-dependency.
  • 7,118 referrals to community-based services started treatment during the quarter. Overall, 91% involved a wait of three weeks or less. Eleven of the 14 NHS Boards met the Standard and three did not (Highland (84%), Tayside (81%) and Lothian (80%)).
  • Nationally, the Standard was met for referrals to community-based services starting treatment for co-dependency (94%), and problematic use of drugs (93%). The Standard was not met for those starting treatment for alcohol (89%).
  • At the end of the quarter, 2,018 community treatment referrals had not started treatment. Of these, 505 (25%) involved a wait of more than three weeks.
  • The most common treatments commenced during the quarter at community-based services were structured preparatory and motivational intervention (47 to 54% across substance types), and community-based support and/or rehabilitation (34 to 41% across substance types).
  • 717 referrals were made to prison-based services during the quarter. Of these, 590 (82%) were for people seeking help for problematic use of drugs.
  • 325 referrals to prison-based services started treatment during the quarter. Of these, 95% involved a wait of three weeks or less (Alcohol; 97%, Drugs; 94%, Co-dependency; 97%).
Image caption Percentage of completed community referrals with a wait of three weeks or less, by NHS Board (1 October to 31 December 2022)


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 27 June 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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