A SOUTH Scotland MSP has attacked the Scottish Government over recent drug-related death figures.

The latest figures, published by National Records of Scotland, show that 1,330 people died across Scotland in 2021 due to drug misuse – and though down on the previous years number, is the second highest annual total since records began.

As reported previously in the Chronicle, the Ayrshire and Arran health board area recorded 100 drug-related deaths in 2021 – down slightly from 106 in 2020 and 109 in 2019.

East Ayrshire saw 38 drug-related deaths last year – up from 36 in 2020 but a slight decline on the record total of 41 in 2019.

In 2020, the drug misuse death rate per million people was 245 in Scotland, 50 in England and 47 in Wales.

The latest report also found that people in the most deprived areas were more than 15 times more likely to have a drug misuse death compared to those in the least deprived areas.

This gap has widened further over the past two decades.

Commenting, Conservative MSP Sharon Dowey said: “The numbers of drug-related deaths we are hearing about in Scotland are worrying.

"The Scottish Government has repeatedly pledged to address this crisis, but no results are to be seen. All we’ve seen are steep increases in death rates over the past years.

“This is clearly an emergency and the SNP Government must start treating it as one. The SNP has been in charge long enough to bring this crisis under control but it’s not surprising that they’ve failed.

“Their obsession with independence takes priority over ferries, rail services, and drug deaths.”

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance said: “Scotland suffers a terrible toll from drug deaths, leaving families grieving and in pain and my heart goes out to all those affected by the death of a loved one through drugs.

“While there is so much more work to do, every life saved means one less family grieving and I am determined we can use this halt in the upward trend of recent years as a platform for real change.”