Steering Committee

The DRNS Steering Committee provides overall management of the network, oversees delivery of agreed activities and outputs, and ensures that the network adheres to relevant policy and legislation.

Steering Committee Members

Professor Catriona Matheson

DRNS Convenor

Catriona is Professor of Substance Use at the University of Stirling, an honorary senior research fellow at the University of Aberdeen, an independent research consultant, and a trustee and treasurer of the Society for the Study of Addiction. Her research interests are in the delivery of care to substance users through generalist as well as specialist providers. Past research includes exploring new services in primary care (e.g. naloxone distribution) and exploring health professional and the general public’s opinions about drug treatment strategies. Current work includes innovative community pharmacy services, services for older drug users and dependence on prescribed and non-prescription analgesics.

Catriona is Chair of Scotland’s Drug Death Taskforce which will examine the main causes of drug deaths, promote action to improve the health of people who use drugs and advise on further changes in practice, or in the law, which could help save lives.


Dr Tessa Parkes

Deputy Convenor

Tessa has experience in the statutory and non-statutory health, social care and housing/homelessness sectors as a front-line support worker, team leader and mental health nurse, and has provided consultancy and training to a wide variety of organisations focused on service improvement to better meet the needs of healthcare users. Tessa has a track record of creating positive impact on policy and practice through research. For 20 years her research activity has centred on enhancing the experience of people who use health/social care services, with a clear commitment to social justice, health equity and advocacy for poorly serviced groups with a specialism in mental health and substance use.  She enjoys seeking out opportunities to move research into action including using participatory film-making. She is Research Director for the new Salvation Army Centre for Addiction Services and Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences, and is institutional Dean for Equality and Diversity at Stirling.


Professor Alex Baldacchino

Research and Development Lead

Alex is a professor at the University of St Andrews School of Medicine and specialises in psychiatry and addiction medicine. He is an Executive Board Member and Chair for the training and education Committee and, recently, President Elect of the International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM). His main research interest lies in improving the lives of individuals with a history of substance misuse problems. His research portofolios have a common thread of understanding the comorbid conditions (physical and psychological) arising as a result of chronic abuse of pharmacological agents with dependence potential especially opioids and alcohol. He is interested in utilising informatic systems, clinical outcome data, neuropsychological and neuroimaging processes amongst many other possibilities in order to identify and minimise risks present in this patient population.


Duncan Hill

Clinician with relevant experience

Duncan Hill is currently the Specialist Pharmacist in Substance Misuse (SPiSM) in NHS Lanarkshire. He started working in community pharmacy after qualifying from RGIT, Aberdeen, and became an addictions pharmacist in 2005 in NHSGGC then moving to NHS Lanarkshire in 2009. He is a qualified Pharmacist Independent Prescriber and has been practicing since 2007. Initially having a clinic with the Homeless Addictions Team in NHSGGC, and currently 3 clinics within NHS Lanarkshire. He leads a team of 8 pharmacist prescribers, working as part of an integrated multidisciplinary substance misuse prescribing service that support the 11 addiction teams in NHS Lanarkshire. He is an Honorary Lecturer at Strathclyde University and was a Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow Caledonia University. In the role at Strathclyde University he has been involved with the Pharmacist Independent Prescriber course as well as undergraduate teaching and projects. He is a member of the Scottish Specialist Pharmacists in Substance Misuse group, the Opioid Painkiller Dependence Alliance core group, the steering groups of the National Substance Misuse Non-Medical Prescribers Forum and the Drugs Research Network Scotland. Duncan has published a number of articles on various addiction related topics in peer reviewed journals.

David Liddell

Non-Governmental Organisation representative

David is the Chief Executive Officer of the Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF) and has worked in the field of drugs, alcohol, and homelessness for over 35 years in England, Ireland, and Scotland. He was a key player in the development of harm reduction services in Scotland, advocating the introduction of needle exchanges and substitute prescribing programmes. He served on the UK Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs from 2008 until 2017, and since the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, he has been a Secretary to the Cross Party Group on Alcohol and Drug Misuse. An active member of the European Civil Society Forum on Drugs, David is a regular media commentator on issues relating to problematic drugs use in Scotland. He has contributed to a number of publications on drug use in Scotland and was made Officer of Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s 2012 Birthday Honours for services to disadvantaged people in Scotland.


Dr Alison Munro

Academic lead for Health, Social Care and Well-being

Alison is a senior researcher at the Scottish Improvement Science Collaborating Centre (SISCC) in the University of Dundee and a social scientist. She has extensive research experience in the field of substance misuse – in particular around injecting drug use, blood borne viruses, and developing and testing treatment interventions for staff and for people who inject drugs.  Alison also has research interests in co-production models of service design and delivery, implementing evidence in practice, and in issues relating to gender, social influences, and intersectionality.  Her recent research has included co-investigation on an NIHR funded study that examined the feasibility of delivering a tailored intervention to reduce the harms associated with injecting to people who inject drugs (PWID).  She is also currently the Principal Investigator on a grant from the Chief Scientist Office to conduct an in-depth study of Novel Psychoactive Substance Injecting in Scotland.  Her work at SISCC currently focusses on understanding and evaluating the process of getting evidence into practice at scale.

Dr Aileen O’Gorman

Academic lead for Harms

Aileen is a sociologist and senior lecturer on the postgraduate Contemporary Drug and Alcohol Studies (CDAS) programme at the University of the West of Scotland. Her research focuses on three interconnected areas: drug use and drug markets; the socio-economic and structural contexts of neighbourhood risk environments; and drug and social policy analysis and reform. She focuses on research that is participative, engages with the communities affected, and has an impact on policy and practice. She is a Board member of the European Society for Social Drugs Research (ESSD) and the Scottish Drugs Forum;  a member of the International Editorial Board of the journal Drugs: education, prevention and policy; and a member of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP) and the Scottish Drugs Policy Conversations think-tank.

Dr Emily Tweed

Dr Emily Tweed

Emily is a Clinical Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Glasgow and an Honorary Specialty Registrar at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Her interests generally are in the social context of health and health inequalities, and she is currently working on a CSO-funded project investigating the health of people with intersecting experiences of substance use, homelessness, criminal justice involvement, and serious mental illness, using administrative data linkage. She also has a particular interest in gender and substance use.

Dr Anne Whittaker

Academic lead for Families

Anne is an Associate Professor at the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions (NMAHP) Research Unit, funded by the Chief Scientist Office. Anne’s research experience and interests are broadly related to addiction within the family, including pregnancy, parenting, and whole family approaches. She currently teaches a masters level module – ‘Research Ethics and Governance’ – on the MRes in Health Research programme at the University of Stirling and was previously a member of Edinburgh Napier University’s School of Health and Social Care Ethics Committee. She has considerable experience in successfully managing studies involving complex ethical and governance issues and the NHS REC and R&D approval process.

Dr Duncan Stewart

Dr Duncan Stewart

Duncan is a consultant addiction Psychiatrist currently working in NHS Lothian. He has worked in Psychiatry in Glasgow, Aberdeen, North Lanarkshire, Forth Valley and the Highlands of Scotland finally moving home to Edinburgh in 2014. He has been an addictions consultant from 2008 with a keen interest in the prevention of drug related deaths and the management of co-morbid psychiatric conditions.

He has chaired a working group on the management of addictions issues in police settings as part of the prisoner healthcare network, he has been the vice chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Addictions faculty in Scotland and remains a member of the Scottish Addictions Specialists meeting. He currently is the clinical lead for two busy inner city multidisciplinary addiction teams.

Professor Betsy Thom

Academic lead for Prevention

Betsy is Professor of Health Policy and co-director of the Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at Middlesex University. Her research interests include alcohol and drug policy, gender and substance use, and community based approaches to prevention and intervention. She has been involved in several EU funded projects and has worked as a consultant for UNODC. She was editor-in-chief of Drugs: Education Prevention and Policy for twenty years and a member of the board of the International Society for Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE). Her work has included developing and running distance learning programmes in drug and alcohol studies; most recently a masters in ‘Comparative Drug and Alcohol Studies’, a collaborative programme with Denmark and Italy.  Current research is looking at drug prevention interventions for young drug users in the criminal justice systems in six EU countries.