Drug deaths across the Lothians increased by 11 per cent in 2018, accounting for 152 deaths compared to 137 in 2017, according to National Records of Scotland figures.
In West Lothian the number of drug deaths has soared from 16 in 2014 to a new high of 25 last year. Of the drug deaths in 2018, 18 were caused by heroin/morphine, methadone or bupren-orphine.
Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “I’m deeply saddened to see yet another big increase in drug deaths. The Lothians account for roughly one quarter of all drug-related deaths in Scotland for the past year.
“Scotland has the worst drugs death crisis in the developed world. We need an immediate change of course.
“We need a radical drugs policy to overhaul the current strategy, including protecting drug and alcohol partnership budgets, sending people to treatment instead of prison, and establishing proposals for a network for the provision of heroin-assisted treatment.”
Scottish Conservative Lothian List MSP and shadow health secretary Miles Briggs added: “It is a shocking indictment of 20 years of failed drug and alcohol policies that we see Scotland now record the highest drug deaths anywhere in Europe. We need to see a new approach which firstly ends drug and alcohol partnerships being the Cinderella service in the NHS.”
Scottish Public Health Minister Joe Fitzpatrick said the number of people who have lost their lives because of drug use was “shocking” and it was time for drug abuse to be treated as a public health issue.