The Aberdeenshire rehab centre helping to turn lives around

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Image caption,
Supervisor Jim Connon used to be a Sunnybrae resident

With Scotland's drug death rate the highest in Europe, a key focus is on the treatment and recovery of those battling addiction.

Despite a slight drop, the latest figure of 1,330 is still the second highest annual total on record.

The Scottish government says access to residential rehab is a priority.

It has awarded more than £790,000 to north east rehabilitation centres Sunnybrae and Benaiah to increase capacity.

Situated near Fyvie in Aberdeenshire, Sunnybrae has been operating for nearly 20 years.

Its aim is to provide a space for men with addictions to get clean and turn their lives around.

Senior supervisor Paul Beaton said: "Our residents here usually had no routine, no structure to their day.

"From the time they get up, at 07:15 every morning, they shave, they clean every day, quiet time at 07:45, breakfast at 08:00.

"Right through the day we've got a lot of routine and structure, which the guys can take a bit of time to adjust to but they're encouraged to do that because of the chaotic lifestyle and days that they were coming from.''

Image caption,
Sunnybrae has a faith-based approach to recovery

The centre runs gardening and window cleaning businesses, which helps fund the 11-month programme, as well as housing benefits and fundraising.

As a Christian charity, Sunnybrae has a faith-based approach to recovery and it works on a self-referral basis.

Residents are expected to attend chapel every morning and there are classes based on the principles of the bible.

They are taught not to lie, not to steal, to be a good husband and to be a good worker.

Many of the staff members at Sunnybrae have experience of addiction themselves.

Jim Connon started taking heroin at 17 - an addiction which blighted his life for nearly 20 years.

''I started to deteriorate quickly," he said.

"My health, my relationships, how I saw myself. I started to lose my teeth, I was skinny.

"I got to a place where I really didn't want to be here anymore.

"I was in hospital one night through the horrors of my addiction because I ended up injecting. A nurse said to me there is help there.''

Image caption,
Sunnybrae is a rehab centre near Fyvie in Aberdeenshire

Jim joined the Sunnybrae programme, a decision which he says turned his life around.

Now a supervisor at the centre, Jim is now happily married.

His wife also went through a similar programme at the nearby women's rehabilitation centre, Benaiah.

Nearly 400 men have come to Sunnybrae since it opened in 2003, with 45% of them now living lives free from addiction.

Senior supervisor Paul Beaton says a key focus is on restoring relationships.

"One of the best points of our job I would say is when one of the guys here, he's got a visit, his family are coming.

"His four-year-old son comes out the car, runs towards his dad and jumps into his arms, he's got his dad back. Some of those sweet moments are just the best.''

Residential rehabilitation is a key part of the Scottish government's strategy to tackle Scotland's drug problem.

It has pledged £100m to increase capacity and improve access to services.

It also plans to increase bed capacity from 425 to 650 and ensure there is at least 1,000 publicly funded placements.

Sunnybrae believes their programme, and others like them, can help save lives.