The impact of drug misuse on Scotland’s people and society will be the focus of a University of Stirling-hosted research network of universities and NHS boards.
The Drug Research Network Scotland (DRNS) will be funded by a £240,000 investment from the Scottish Government, administered by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). The Network will inform public policy, improve practice and reduce the harms associated with problem drug use.
Catriona Matheson, Honorary Professor at the University of Stirling and a Trustee of The Society for the Study of Addiction, said: “We are really delighted to have secured this funding.”
Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Public Health and Sport.
The Network will look beyond individual disciplines and bring together the knowledge, skills and capabilities of different areas of research to accelerate efforts to reduce the harms associated with problem drug use.
Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: “Following the publication of our national research framework for problem drug use and recovery in 2015, a significant amount of work has gone into the scoping and development of this collaboration. I am delighted that we are now in a position where this network has been established and its funding has been confirmed.
“Scotland has a strong track record in terms of substance use research, and this new investment will allow academic and third sector organisations to work together to build capacity, maximise research investment and deliver robust and high quality research evidence that will aid in the development of future policy.”
Professor Matheson added: “There is a genuine spirit of collaboration across the country. By working together, we hope to secure bigger grants that will have a real, beneficial impact on the lives of those affected by problematic drug use.”
Professor Alison Bowes, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, said: “The Faculty of Social Sciences is very excited about hosting this ground-breaking new collaborative network for Scottish drugs research.
"It is a natural next step that consolidates the work the University undertaken over the past 32 years in this important area. Hosting the Drugs Research Network for Scotland aligns with our University and Faculty strategies where our researchers aim to make a real and demonstrable impact on society in Scotland and beyond.
"Being selected to host the Network underscores our genuine desire to be working with the wider sector in our research activity and to be outward facing. The value of opportunities like hosting the new Network are unlimited and we will watch with great interest how it develops over the next three years doing everything we can to support it."
John Kemp, Interim Chief Executive of the SFC, said: “This is an important investment and an exciting area of multi-disciplinary research. The Drug Research Network Scotland has the potential to accelerate research that will help people struggling with problem drug use – and also help the people around them. I hope it will also help to unleash their potential to benefit from education and to contribute to society.”
As well as facilitating collaboration within Scottish universities and NHS Scotland, DRNS will also develop links with leading researchers elsewhere in the UK and in other countries.