Decriminalisation, drug checking and drug use facilities are needed to tackle Scotland’s drug death crisis according to a government-funded charity.

Drug death figures for last year are due this week but ahead of the publication the Scottish Drug Forum said an emergency plan is needed.

It has called for the decriminalisation of the possession of drugs for personal use for all people in all circumstances.

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Drug checking services should be deployed and changes in drug supply monitored to ensure people are aware of the risks, particularly with synthetic opioids.

And it wants safer drug use facilities provided to minimise the risk of a fatal overdose.

It also calls for “accessible and acceptable” treatment services provided to attract more people who could benefit from help.

Scotland has recorded record drug deaths in recent years, the highest in the UK and the highest in Europe.

The figures for 2022 are due soon but in 2021 there were 1330 deaths across Scotland and 311 in Glasgow a record high for the city.

Regardless of what the coming report will say the charity said the response in recent years has not been good enough and “alarm bells should be ringing”.

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It states: “Scotland has made an inadequate response to the ongoing public health emergency and now faces the emerging threat of a drug supply containing new synthetic opioids.”

The organisation said Scotland needs to adopt practice and policy measures that have developed in other countries.

Kirsten Horsburgh, chief executive of Scottish Drug Forum, said: “We are now well beyond the need for urgent action.  

“The emergency demands action now and by all means possible. There can be no further delays.

“Everyone seems to know that Scotland has an astonishing rate of drug-related deaths and that was before we saw this emerging trend of new synthetic opioids within the heroin supply. 

“Alarm bells should be ringing all over Government and all through the treatment and support services because we are not prepared.”