Drugs deaths in Scotland are expected to have reached a record high in 2018 with the number of people dying rising to more than 1000.
David Liddell, chief executive of the Scottish Drugs Forum, said the figures could be upwards of 1100 when they are published this July.
The sobering statistic was revealed as the House of Commons Scottish Common Affairs Select Committee announced it was conducting an inquiry into the use and misuse off drugs in Scotland.
Drugs-related deaths in Scotland totalled 934 in 2017, which was the largest number since the figures began to be collated in 1996. It was also more than double the 2007 total.
Launching the inquiry at the harm reduction charity Crew 2000 in Edinburgh, committee chairman Pete Wishart MP, said they would look for a wide spread of evidence to test whether drug policy needed to be reviewed and changed.
Committee member and Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard said the figures showed that drugs policy was failing. “A thousand people have died and most needn’t or shouldn’t have died.
“If there were another area of policy where 1000 people were dying in a year then there would be an outcry - we would be being asked what are we doing about it. If it was because of poison in food, or through cars crashing because of a fault people would be demanding answers and solutions, not asking why we’re holding an inquiry about it - they’d be demanding one. The question is, why isn’t everyone looknig at this problem.”
Mr Liddell told the politicians that in the Netherlands there were concerns about fatal overdoses reaching more than 200 people - out of a population of 15 million. “In Scotland the figures in 2018 will be going over 1000, and will be significantly over that - 1100 if not higher. And the death rates in the first few months of this year are at a similar level.
“Focusing on this is to be very much welcomed.”