A total of 1,339 people died from drugs in Scotland last year, a new record high for Europe’s drug death capital.
The annual statistics from the National Records of Scotland show there is an increase of 5.9% on the figures from 2019, and the rate of deaths in Scotland is three and a half times higher than that of the UK as a whole.
The country has seen a 177% mortality increase in drugs deaths since the SNP first came to power in 2007.
The law around the control of drugs is a matter reserved to Westminster, but things such as the help those with addiction receive, is something devolved to Holyrood.
But just what can politicians do at the Scottish Parliament to tackle the growing problem?
Drugs minister to ‘turn the tide’ on deaths
Angela Constance was given the position of drugs policy minister at the end of 2020 and was re-appointed to the role after May’s Scottish Parliament election.
She is now responsible for the drugs brief for the next five years, and is the only government minister to report directly to the first minister.
Ms Constance has vowed to “turn the tide” on drug-related deaths, and says she wants to get more people into treatment, and make sure their treatment is right for them.
In offering my condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one I reaffirm my commitment to turn words into actions and to do everything possible in our national mission to save and improve lives https://t.co/vnqPiOtgpJ
— Angela Constance (@AConstanceSNP) July 30, 2021
Previously she has said she would like measures such as drug consumption rooms and drug checking facilities introduced to Scotland.
She also says she wants to see a heroin-assisted treatment programme, which was piloted in Glasgow, rolled out across the country.
Cross-party approach needed at Holyrood
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf says it will take a cross-party approach to tackle the growing problem of drugs deaths in Scotland.
And many others agree – Conservative MSP Maurice Golden and Labour’s Mercedes Villalba MSP both say the parliament needs to work together to get things right and improve lives for people with addiction.
Mr Golden says offering rehab to everyone who needs it is key to making sure those who need treatment get it.
Ms Villalba on the other hand says tackling societal issues such as homelessness and hunger will stop people turning to drugs in the first place.
She also says looking at the prospect of legalising drugs is something politicians should be looking at.