Better access to treatment must be provided if the drop in drug deaths is to continue to meaningful levels, campaigners and medical staff have said.

The latest figures showed a drop in fatalities of 20% but still more than 1000 people died across Scotland in 2022.

The Scottish Government said it welcomed the reduction to from 1330 to 1051 but recognised more needs to be done.

READ NEXT: Drug death figures released show Glasgow has highest number

Elena Whitham Drugs policy minister said: “As part of our £250 million National Mission on drugs, we’ll continue to focus on getting more people into the form of treatment and support they need, expand access to residential rehabilitation and drive the rollout of life-saving Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Standards where we are making significant progress.”

While advocates for increased access to recovery programmes and for people with lived experience to have a greater role in decision-making are calling for a “huge shift” towards rehab.

Annemarie Ward, chief executive of addiction advocacy group, favour UK, said the reduction, might initially seem like a cause for celebration.

Glasgow Times: Annemarie Ward pictured at home in Glasgow

She said: “However, a closer examination reveals a stark truth. While the numbers have dropped, the situation remains dire and far from satisfactory.

“The sobering fact that Scotland's drug-related death rate is still three times higher than that of England and a staggering 15 times higher than the European average raises significant concerns.”

Ms Ward said to achieve long-term results a "huge shift" is needed.

READ NEXT: Drugs deaths: deprived areas hit hardest as Glasgow worst off

She added: “One striking aspect is the stark disparity between addiction experts and recovery experts on the ground and in leadership positions.

“This imbalance impacts the overall treatment landscape, as addiction experts may primarily focus on managing the immediate effects, leaving recovery and rehabilitation underrepresented.

“Shifting the balance towards recovery-focused initiatives is crucial for addressing the root causes of addiction and providing holistic solutions. Another critical facet is the dire reality of accessing residential rehab facilities in Scotland.

“Despite having exceptional harm reduction interventions and a knowledgeable workforce, the road to rehab remains an arduous journey.

“The odds are alarmingly against individuals, as exemplified by Glasgow's case, where just one person out of every 6,565 registered with addiction services can access rehab.”

Medical practitioners also called for more interventions both in treatment and financial terms to be put in place.

Professor Angela Thomas, of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh said: “There’s much more left to do.

“The College has consistently called for a heroin-assisted treatment programme, as well as the introduction of safe consumption facilities, which we believe could help to reduce drug-related harms.

“Beyond any further medical interventions, the College wants to see greater investment in support services for people who use drugs, including access to mental health support, housing and cost-of-living help.”