The number of cocaine-related deaths in Scotland has quadrupled in the space of just four years amid warnings that people are using the drug along with other Class A substances.
Cocaine was linked to 139 fatalities in 2018, up from just 35 in 2015, and almost double the 77 deaths recorded in 2017.
Police Scotland statistics show that the problem is most acute in Glasgow, with 138 cocaine-related deaths in Scotland’s biggest city since 2015.
The number fell to 40 in Edinburgh, followed by 31 in Aberdeen, 20 in Dundee, and seven deaths in Perth.
Overall, 292 cocaine users died in Scotland over the four- year period, with the Aberdeenshire region accounting for an additional 31, with a further 25 in Fife.
Gareth Balmer, manager of charity Addaction Fife, urged cocaine users to get help.
He said: “There’s a preconception people need to enter the deep waters of a crisis first and people who use cocaine often don’t consider themselves in this category.”
Scottish Drugs Forum chief David Liddell insisted 20 of last year’s deaths involved users who had only taken cocaine or mixed it with alcohol .
He claimed the remainder had used other narcotics, including heroin.
He said: “It’s part of what seems to be a trend in drug use.”
Only last week Cocaine Anonymous Scotland, a fellowship group which supports addicts, warned that cocaine should no longer be viewed as a “middle class party drug” as usage in Scotland continues to climb.
The organisation hosts around 90 meetings every week, up from around 50 weekly meetings five years ago
It comes as one reformed addict said the latest potent batch of cocaine being circulated around the country was even more destructive than heroin.
George Sutherland, from Shotts in North Lanarkshire, told the Scottish Sun: “Out of all the drugs, cocaine brought me to my knees really quickly.
“The cocaine took me to rock bottom. I was suicidal – it was down to coke and the comedown off it.
“The coke that is going about now – ‘prop’ as they call it – is so strong. It is like a different drug altogether.
“I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t face anybody because of depression. I was isolated, sitting in my house with the blinds shut. The younger generation look at it as the norm as everyone’s doing it.”
Police Scotland’s assistant chief constable, Gary Ritchie, vowed to assist the Scottish Government’s new drugs taskforce.
He said: “While enforcement action alone is not enough, we’ll continue to target dealers.”