A new report has revealed the crucial role being played by Christians and churches in tackling drug addiction across Scotland.
Stories of Hope: addiction recovery, produced jointly by the Evangelical Alliance and Serve Scotland, reveals that Scottish churches and Christian groups have helped over 2,300 people recover from drug addiction in the last decade.
"Scotland has been marked by the devastating impact of drug and alcohol addiction in many ways," the report reads.
"Today, the nation is at the forefront of addictionrelated issues and deaths in Europe, with repercussions in health, economic, educational, and social challenges for families and communities in urban and rural environments.
"The widening mental health crisis, socio-economic challenges and limited clinical support exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic has led to the highest increase of addiction issues in over ten years.
"But we are a nation with hope. For decades, church communities and Christian-based organisations have invested tremendously in the building of in-person and online spaces for drug addiction recovery."
The study was conducted off the back of figures released by the Scottish government last year showing that the number of drug-related deaths in Scotland reached 1,339 in 2020.
Scottish government figures also reveal that over a quarter of residential beds for addiction patients are provided by Christian groups - 121 out of the 418 available.
The report draws on the responses of 17 churches and Christian groups involved in addiction recovery services across Scotland, as well as members of the EA network.
The residential rehabilitation programmes run by these groups were shown to have a high success rate, with all respondents reporting more than a 50% success rate of recovery and the average being 66%.
Liam, one of the individuals quoted in the report, said, "My whole life I struggled with fear and anxiety as a result of traumatic experiences from my childhood.
"After 20 years of using drugs and alcohol to ease the pain, I was reduced to a level of brokenness I never quite thought possible.
"If it were not for the Haven [one of the Christian groups in the report], I would probably be dead, and my family devastated.
"I can never repay the staff for the impact they've had on me, and my family's lives.
"Jesus still saves people, he still heals people, and he still changes people's lives. I am living proof of it."
The Scottish government has promised to increase funding for services addressing addiction. The report urges the Scottish government to see "the value and necessity of directing this funding toward many of the pre-existing faith-based programmes across Scotland".
Fred Drummond, director of the Evangelical Alliance Scotland, said: "This report shows that Christians, fuelled by the love of God, are engaging with people going through the darkest of times and walking with them into a place of hope."