By Andrew Learmonth, for The National

Responding to yesterday’s grim statistics, the campaign group Release pointed out that in Portugal, for every one million people, four will die a drug-related death. In Scotland, the death rate is now closer to 220 per million.

While Scotland does have a higher number of people with an opiate-based drug problem than the rest of the UK, only 40% of people with a drug problem are in treatment.

Many of them don’t stay the course, falling through the gaps, never being chased up by stretched services.

Writing on the website The Conversation, academics Alex Stevens and Andrew McAuley point out that while ministers had promised an extra investment in drug and alcohol treatment of £20 million per year until 2021, this followed widely criticised £15m cut in 2016-17.

“It falls far short of what is required to address a public health crisis,” they say.

The two also said the deaths were “highest among working-class people in deprived areas, who have often been ignored in British drug policy making”.