Drugs Research Network for Scotland

The Drugs Research Network for Scotland (DRNS) exists to support and promote collaborative drugs research across disciplines, higher education institutions, health and social care providers, criminal justice services, voluntary sector providers, local communities, people who use drugs and their families across Scotland.

DRNS aims to inform the development of Scottish policy and practice by brokering links and supporting productive relationships across organisations and sectors of society. 

Our priorities include the delivery of a range of knowledge exchange events (regular seminars and an annual conference) to share emerging learning, facilitate networking, and support the translation of research evidence into social impact. DRNS delivers a range of activities and events to meet the professional development needs of drugs researchers including academics, practitioners, and people with lived and living experience of drug use. We also synthesise and summarise evidence to address key information needs and to shape emerging areas of policy and practice across Scotland. 

HiSS - DRNS Logo associated image

A key focus for the network is to support the delivery of the Scottish Government’s National Mission on Drug Deaths, reducing the risk of harm including morbidity and mortality to people who experience problematic drug use. Drug-related deaths and other negative consequences particularly affect people with complex physical/mental health and social needs which can include experience of complex trauma, homelessness, criminal justice involvement, and other multiple vulnerabilities. Scotland has the highest drug-related death rate in the UK and Europe, and among the highest in the world. DRNS supports and promotes research that focuses on reducing the development of problem drug use, reduces risk for people who use drugs, supporting access to high-quality treatment and recovery services, improving quality of life, and ensuring that people who use drugs and those affected (children, families and communities) are supported to thrive. 

Recent developments in Scottish policy include moves towards decriminalisation of drug use and the development of harm reduction services such as drug checking and supervised consumption facilities. DRNS engages with policy-makers, researchers, practitioners, and criminal justice services to support the development and sharing of evidence in the field. 

Emerging clinical work is exploring the utility of substances such as cannabis and psychedelics in the treatment of chronic pain and mental health problems. We advocate for, and are helping to drive, the evidence-generating and sharing activities to ensure benefits are translated into patient and wider social benefits. 

Drug use is an enduring and integral element of human culture across geographies and throughout history. We also support work that recognises the roles and meanings of substance use, and encourages an understanding of the governmental, social, communal, and personal factors associated social drug use. 

DRNS encourages approaches to drug use that are informed by respect for human rights, most importantly those of people with lived and living experience. Through our work we seek to establish and engender relationships across traditional boundaries that generate knowledge and improve understandings across organisations and communities. 

Funded by the Scottish Government