New figures released by the Scottish Government have revealed that 285 people died from suspected illegal drug use in the first three month of this year.
The statistics released on Tuesday show a similar of number of deaths to the previous two calendar quarters, but slightly down on the same period in 2021.
The latest figures are for the months between the beginning of January until the end of March 2022 represent a 27% drop from the start of last year.
From October 1 until the end of December 2021 there were 288 deaths and between July and September of that year there were 285.
However, between January and March 2021, 393 drugs death were recorded.
This year’s figures are the lowest recorded for the first three month of the year since 2017.
The quarterly numbers are measured using statistics recorded by police and include deaths that officers suspect involved the use of illicit drugs.
Responding to the figures Scottish Labour say that while “early signs” are there that the issue is being tackled, the number deaths is “still tragically high”.
The party’s drug policy spokesperson Claire Baker said: “Although it is positive to see early signs that we are finally tackling this public health emergency, the number of people losing their lives to drug use is still tragically high.
“Every single drug-related death is one too many and so while any progress should be welcomed, there is no room for complacency
“The SNP must keep their eye on the ball and use every power at their disposal to support communities and prevent lives being lost and destroyed by drug use.”
And the Scottish Conservatives say the figures “ought to shame” the SNP and First Minister.
Shadow drugs minister Sue Webber MSP said: “Every one of these deaths is a tragedy for the families and loved ones of those concerned – and we must never forget that when looking at the bigger picture.
“Scotland’s sky-high drugs-death rate – the worst in Europe – shows no sign of marked improvement. This ought to shame the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon who, by their own admission, took their eye off the ball while this national crisis mushroomed on their watch.
“They are repeating that mistake with their latest push for another divisive independence referendum.
“It’s clear that the SNP’s current drugs strategy isn’t working because too many people with addiction problems can’t access the help they need, and the increased funding appears not to be reaching the front line.
“They need to belatedly throw their weight behind the Scottish Conservatives’ Right to Recovery Bill, which would enshrine in law the right of everyone to receive the potentially life-saving treatment they need.”
Glasgow had the highest number recorded in Scotland between January and March with 50 drug deaths recorded in the city.
The capital had the second highest with 31 deaths then Lanarkshire on 29, Ayrshire on 27 and 25 recorded in Tayside.
The rolling 12-month suspected drug death total has declined for four consecutive quarters.