Drug referrals in Rutherglen and Cambuslang on the decrease

THE number of people being referred to South Lanarkshire Council’s Substance Misuse Team fell by nearly 20 per cent between 2007 and 2009.

In 2009, there were 447 people referred to the Rutherglen branch of the facility, compared to 551 in 2007 and 485 in 2008.

However, the area remains the highest in South Lanarkshire for referrals, with someone from Rutherglen and Cambuslang more than twice as likely to be referred than the rest of the region.

In fact, in 2009 the local branch had 100 more referrals than the Blantyre and Hamilton team, which had the second-highest total, while more than a third of the total South Lanarkshire referrals came from the area.

Across South Lanarkshire, the numbers rose from 1180 in 2007, to 1295 in 2009, or 5.3 referrals per 1000 of the over 18 population.

Glasgow Rutherglen MSP James Kelly said the figures for Rutherglen and Cambuslang were both pleasing and worrying at the same time.

He said: “Although the reduction is welcome, the fact that over a third of referrals in South Lanarkshire come from Rutherglen and Cambuslang demonstrates that we have a significant problem locally.

“Drug misuse blights far too many lives and these figures highlight the need for action.

“Local and national agencies need to develop policies which guide people away from drugs and on to a more stable lifestyle.”

The figures were released in a report to last week’s Social Work Committee, when councillors approved changes to the substance misuse service.

The current three-location system will be scrapped for a four-locality system in an effort to encourage greater local links with communities.

The service will focus on a group work approach.

Changes to the staffing system will see a single team leader overseeing the service in Rutherglen, Cambuslang and East Kilbride, and another in Hamilton, Blantyre, Larkhall and Clydesdale, at a cost of £4099 to the council.

The substance misuse team offers services to address the needs of people affected by alcohol and drug problems. Individuals or families experiencing difficulties relating to alcohol or drugs use can receive help by calling 0141 647 9977.