£250m pledge to tackle 'national disgrace' of Scots drug deaths
The Scottish government has pledged an extra £250m over the next Holyrood term to tackle the "national disgrace" of drug-related deaths.22 Jan 2021
More than 1,200 people died of drug misuse in Scotland in 2019, a record number for the sixth year running.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accepted that her government "should have done more sooner" to address the issue.
But she said £50m a year would be spent over the coming term to "end what is currently a national disgrace".
This will include £20m a year for residential rehabilitation services and "significant" funding for local alcohol and drugs partnerships and grassroots organisations.
The 2019 figure of 1,264 deaths was a 6% increase on 2018, and more than double the number of deaths in 2014.
It is the worst rate recorded in Europe, and about three and a half times the rate for England and Wales.
Public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick lost his job shortly after the figures were published, with Ms Sturgeon creating a new post of drugs minister for Angela Constance.
The first minister promised to embark on "a national mission to end what is currently a national disgrace".
Scottish Conservative group leader Ruth Davidson said drug deaths were "Scotland's worst shame", adding that "more should have been done much earlier".