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Pilot program offering substance misusers free bus rides

A pilot program that offers drug and alcohol misusers free bus trips to an alcohol and drug service centre in the North-east has ended.

The scheme has been initiated by Transport Scotland four months ago in partnership with Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drugs Partnership (ADP).

Transport Scotland is a government agency responsible for transport issues in Scotland. It has been giving free bus trips to individuals with disabilities, injured veterans and the elderly.

ADP is a multi-agency partnership created in 2009 to provide improvement to the lives of individuals in Aberdeen struggling with alcohol and drug abuse.

Latest data from ADP shows that 50,000 individuals in Aberdeenshire are drinking above hazardous levels and that 14,000 of these heavy drinkers have developed alcohol dependency. ADP also estimates that there are about 10,000 drug misusers in Aberdeenshire, 1,200 of which are “problem users.”

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman told the Evening Express last April 10 that the pilot was undertaken to examine the benefits of improving the concessionary travel application process of ADP’s service users and is part of evaluation of the agency’s application process for individuals with combined drug and mental health issues.

The spokeswoman said the program is“expected to create a more consistent and manageable approach to the scheme while ensuring our strict eligibility criteria are being adhered to, particularly that cardholders are attending their treatment programme.”

Under the pilot program, only clients with drug and alcohol misuse problems and mental health issues are granted concessionary travel.

A report on the pilot and its viability is expected to be published at the end of April.A final decision on the program will be made based on expert opinions as well as evidence and outcomes and funding priorities.

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