Responding to official statistics showing 1,339 people died of drug-related deaths in 2020, an increase of 5% from 2019, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:
"This will be a terribly hard day for all those who lost a loved one last year. Each and every life lost is a tragedy.
"Every drug death is preventable. However, that task became ten times harder when SNP ministers avoided the subject ahead of the independence referendum, as that justice secretary admitted, and then cut the budget for critical prevention services by 22%.
"Help and expertise that people relied upon was needlessly surrendered when it should have been expanded.
"It was Nicola Sturgeon's choice to ignore this unfolding epidemic. Issuing apologies now is too late for thousands of people. The victims of drugs and their families were failed. It is a scar on the conscience of this Scottish Government."