Headlines: January 15th, 2007



Scotland’s Futures Forum is to undertake a year-long study of alcohol and
drug use. It will be launched today with a major conference at Holyrood
that will set the stage for the investigations that the Forum hopes will
establish a fresh political perspective on the country’s approach to
alcohol and drugs.

The study will run against the background of figures from the Scottish
Executive that estimate that more than 100,000 Scottish children are
affected by parental alcohol use and nearly 60,000 by parental drug use.
Themes for the study will cover education and prevention, regulation and
prohibition, improving treatment options, the policy drivers that address
substance abuse and the future for children and young people.

Today’s event is being run by the Forum with the Scottish Association of
Alcohol and Drug Actions Teams. Under the title ‘Over the horizon: fresh
perspectives on alcohol and drugs’, it will bring together more than 250
experts including senior police officers, leading academics and health
professionals. Keynote speakers will be Professor Tony King, Chair of the
Royal Society of Arts Commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public
Policy, the Rev John Miller from Castlemilk East Parish Church and Tom
Wood, who chairs the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams.
The new study comes just a week after the forum published the result of its
first major piece of research which looked at the impact of ageing.
Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer George Reid, who chairs the Futures
Forum, said, “Through the Futures Forum, we are developing long-term
strategic thinking on the issues which Scotland will face in the future. We
are engaging with those we represent and those who know the challenges and
opportunities that will arise.”

The RSA Commission on Illegal Drugs is due to publish the results of its
own two-year study in March and the organisers of the Scottish conference
hope members of the Commission will bring the knowledge and experience they
have gained to today’s proceedings. Susan Deacon, a Member of the Scottish
Parliament who also sits on the Commission, said there was a pressing need
for a more open and informed debate on drug and alcohol use and she praised
the Forum for taking on the study. “I hope that work such as this, and the
forthcoming RSA Commission report, will help to stimulate fresh thinking on
this important and challenging issue,” she said.