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 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 30 Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs), eight services out of 204 were excluded due to incomplete data.

Main points

During the quarter ending 31 December 2023:

  • 10,534 referrals were made to community-based specialist drug and alcohol treatment services: 5,239 (49.7%) were for problematic use of alcohol, 3,885 (36.9%) for problematic use of drugs, and 1,410 (13.4%) for co-dependency.
  • 7,316 referrals to community-based services started treatment. Of these, 90.5% involved a wait of three weeks or less. Five NHS Boards did not meet the Standard (Highland, 89.8%; Lothian, 86.2%; Fife, 83.4%, Orkney, 83.3%; Forth Valley, 59.7%).
  • Nationally, the Standard was met for referrals to community-based services starting treatment for the problematic use of drugs (91.8%) and co-dependency (91.7%). The Standard was not met for those starting treatment for alcohol (89.3%).
  • 824 referrals were made to prison-based services. Of these, 674 (81.8%) were for people seeking help for problematic use of drugs.
  • 356 referrals to prison-based services started treatment. Of these, 92.1% involved a wait of three weeks or less (co-dependency, 100.0%; drugs, 90.6%; alcohol, 84.6%).

As of 31 December 2023, 2,192 community-based service referrals had not started treatment. Of these, 445 (20.3%) involved a wait of more than three weeks.

Image caption Percentage of completed community referrals with a wait of three weeks or less, by NHS Board (1 October 2023 to 31 December 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 25 June 2024.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact Nadia Palma at phs.drugsteam@phs.scot.

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If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

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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: 22 March 2024
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