SCOTLAND is “going backwards” as drug deaths continue to rise, according to a campaign organisation.

Annual figures for the total number of drug related deaths should have been published this month but has been delayed due to a dispute over toxicology services leading to a backlog of almost 1000 cases.

The latest report for 2018 saw another record year with 290 deaths in Glasgow and 1187 deaths in Scotland.

It was a huge leap for the year before when 192 deaths were recorded in the city.

Despite there being no official figures for 2019 published, police have said there was expected to be another increase.

Annemarie Ward, chief executive of Faces and Voices of Recovery (Favor), said even before the coronavirus pandemic efforts to tackle drug deaths were inadequate.

She said: “We fully understand that governments have rightly been focussed on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But unless urgent action is taken, any progress on drug deaths will be lost. All we are hearing from the police and what we’re seeing on the ground indicates that Scotland is now going backwards.

“Even before the pandemic struck, we were seeing very little concrete action from either government. The Drug Death Task Force insists on pursuing the same failed options that got us into this mess, and the UK Government has failed to listen or take steps such as declaring a public health emergency.”

Favor calls for more resources to be invested in recovery and residential rehabilitation and argues that eh efforts to help people off drugs are too narrowly focussed.

Ms Ward added: “We need the UK Government to come to the table to discuss sensible solutions, and we need the Scottish Government to start properly funding rehabilitation and recovery programmes.

“The drug crisis is Scotland’s shame and on current trends, it’s only going to get worse.”

The call for renewed and urgent action comes as a study shows public support for a safer drug consumption room, which has been blocked in Glasgow by the Lord Advocate’s advice and the Home Office.

The research by academics at Glasgow Caledonian University, Liverpool John Moores University ( and the University of Liverpool found when provided with greater information of how a DCR works people were in favour of it.

The first scientific research on the subject, of 1600 people across Scotland, found that 61% of people agreed with the introduction of DCRs in Scotland, whilst only 15% disagreed, and 24% were unsure.

Dr Andrew McAuley, a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Health and Life Sciences at GCU, said: “Harms related to drug use in Scotland are at record levels and Glasgow is at the epicentre with an ongoing HIV outbreak and some of the highest drug-related death rates in the country. One of the proposals put forward to tackle these public health crises has been a DCR but this has repeatedly been rejected by the UK government.

“However, that doesn’t mean that the case for DCRs in Glasgow has gone away and we’ve continued to build the evidence base for a DCR in the city by looking at the drug-related harms such a facility would seek to address including our work on HIV, public injecting, and more recently whether people who inject drugs would use it.”