CALLS have mounted for Glasgow to get heroin on the NHS and supervised injecting facilities as the city's drug deaths hit a record high.

Fully 157 people - many older addicts - died of their habit in the city last year, more than double the figure 10 years ago.

Across Scotland there was also a record high, 706, also twice as many as in 2005. Nearly three-quarters of the 706 people who lost their lives were over 35 as, in a long-standing trend, the country lost parents and grandparents rather than children to drugs.

Experts warned that Scotland has been slow to adopt policies that have reduced deaths overseas.

Local health and council officials in Glasgow have signalled that they want to open the country's first supervised injection rooms, facilities sometimes called "shooting galleries".

Such systems have saved hundreds of lives across Europe but have faced political opposition in Scotland from politicians who think drugs are a "lifestyle" choice.

Dave Liddell of the Glasgow-based Scottish Drugs Forum stressed there was no need for quite so many Scots to die. He said: "The increase in fatal drug overdoses is a wake-up call to redouble efforts to reduce this tragic and largely preventable loss of life.

A significant share of the national increase in drug overdose deaths is in Glasgow. This figure, along with the rise in HIV infection rates among drug injectors, reinforces the need for Glasgow to look at developing new services and approaches to the most vulnerable people in the city. Saving lives should be the main aim of our services.

" Once we have made sure people can survive, we can work with them to address whatever issues they may have and help people make progress in their lives.

"We fully support the development of both Heroin Assisted Treatment and Safer Injecting Facilities in Glasgow as they are part of a response that will reduce these terrible numbers of drug-related deaths.

"The deaths announced today are individual tragedies for those who have died and for their friends and family. The impact of a death on parents, partners and children can be devastating. These deaths are also a national tragedy for Scotland.

These are the ultimate indicators of Scotland’s health inequalities.

"The deaths are heavily concentrated in our poorest communities and if you look behind the lives of most people who have died you will find a life of disadvantage often starting with a troubled early life."

Heroin remains the big killer. Opiates overall accounted for more than 600 of the more than 700 who lost their lives. Only three deaths were solely attributed to new psychoactive substances, the drugs previously referred to as legal highs.

Addaction, the charity providing more services to drug users than anyone else, stressed cutbacks were hurting. A spokeswoman said: "As drug deaths rise, the provision of fixed site needle exchanges has fallen. These were often the entry point for people to engage in treatment. Indeed we welcome plans to pilot and evaluate drug consumption rooms as part of a renewed harm reduction approach.

"The situation of increasing drug related deaths is not helped by the uncertainty of current and future funding of services. Across Addaction we are concerned when essential services like ours are often being asked to make efficiency savings of around 20 per cent."

Deaths were concentrated in Scotland's poorest area with Greater Glasgow - which has more than 20,000 off the country';s more than 60,000 problem drugs users - losing 221 people, nearly a third of the total. Lanarkshire lost another 73 lives, 10 per cent of the total.