London: Drug-related deaths in Scotland rose 27 per cent last year to a record 1,187, the highest rate in Europe, official data showed on Tuesday.
The largest increases from 2017 levels were seen among drug users aged between 35 and 54 and death rates were highest in and around the city of Glasgow, Scotland's statistics office said.
If Scotland were considered as an independent country, the rate would be higher than any EU country and it is triple the rate in Britain as a whole, the figures showed.
Scotland's Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said the issue had become an "emergency". "The number of people who have lost their lives because of drug use is shocking," he said.
"It is vital this tragedy is treated as a public health issue and we are prepared to take innovative and bold measures in order to save the lives of those most at risk." Scotland is pressing the British government to allow supervised drug consumption facilities -- something which other EU countries have found can reduce fatalities.
But Prime Minister Theresa May has insisted that Britain's focus "should be to ensure people come off drugs, do not go on drugs in the first place and keep clear of drugs".
The spike in drug-related deaths has been a trend for years in Scotland as decades of abuse by the so-called "Trainspotting generation" finally take their toll.
The blockbuster success of the film "Trainspotting", based on Irvine Welsh's novel about coming of age in the 1980s in Leith, made Scotland's drug underworld famous around the world.