Calls for more funding for drug services in Dundee are being made in the wake of rising deaths.
The plea has come from Conservative MSP Bill Bowman after official figures released last week showed 72 people died in the city in 2019 as a result of drug abuse.
It was the sixth consecutive annual rise and means the city has the highest rate of drugs deaths in Europe.
Dundee West MSP Joe FitzPatrick quit his post as public health minister in the wake of the findings.
A new minister for drugs policy, Angela Constance, was appointed on Friday.
Mr Bowman pointed to information that suggested Scottish Government spending on Drug and Alcohol Partnerships (ADPs), which commission treatment services, has been cut from £114 million to £53m since 2007. He also said access to drug rehab beds is also at its lowest level, from 352 in 2007 to 70 today.
The Scottish Government challenged the veracity of the figures, which came from a University of the West of Scotland report.
The Conservative MSP for North East Scotland, said: “ADP funding is integral to helping people beat addictions and get their lives back.
“The shocking figures for last year’s drug deaths proves that Tayside deserves better than year on year cuts to these services.
“The SNP government keeps saying this is a priority area, yet it’s investing less money to help. But there are measures which can be achieved by the next budget.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said a number of the figures and claims being promoted were “simply wrong”.
He said ADPs were not created until 2008/09 and the allocation for alcohol and drug services had increased fron £59m to £95.3 million in 2020/21.
The spokesman said the claim of 70 rehab beds was also not true and pointed to a report last week from the Residential Rehabilitation Working Group, which found there were 365 beds across Scotland last year across the private, public, and third sector. The group did note, however, that not all the rehab beds were being used by Scottish residents.
“These errors do not diminish the fact that what Scotland faces in terms of drug deaths is a public health emergency,” added the spokesman.
“Statistics last week confirmed over 1,200 people lost their lives to drug use. Each loss of life represents a family and a community in pain and grief.
“The first minister will be meeting the Drug Deaths Taskforce next month to discuss the proposals set out in its recently published forward plan. The Taskforce’s work is already changing the way services work to reduce deaths.”
He said the new minister for drug policy would lead the Scottish Government’s work on tackling and reducing the harm of drug misuse, improving rehabilitation services and aiding the recovery of those living with drug addiction, and reducing the unacceptable number of deaths from drugs.
The new minister will report directly to the first minister.