I've warned that cuts to drug and alcohol services will not help tackle Scotland's drug problem as new figures show an increase in the number of people admitted to hospital as a result of drug misuse.
Figures show that in 2014/15, 3,297 patients were treated in hospital drug misuse for the first time. The number of drug-related hospital stays increased from 41 to 143 stays per 100,000 people between 1996/97 and 2015/16.
Figures also showed around half of patients with either a general acute or psychiatric stay in relation to drug misuse lived in the 20% most deprived areas in Scotland.
The increase in the number of people admitted to hospital as a result of drug misuse shows just how far we have to go if we are to tackle Scotland’s substance abuse problem. All the evidence suggests that the current approach to drugs is not working.
With the number of drug deaths at a record high, those who are able to receive care through our NHS might consider themselves the lucky ones.
With SNP cuts to drug and alcohol services starting to bite, the concern has to be that more vulnerable people will miss out on the support they need.
Helping people get clean and kick their habits must be the priority. It is time that we started treating drug misuse as a medical issue.