Every drug death is “a tragedy”, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

Statistics released this week showed 43 suspected drug deaths in Dumfries and Galloway in 2022, compared to 44 in 2021. The figure recorded in 2017 was 15.

Across Scotland, there were 1,092 suspected drug deaths between January and December 2022.

This was 16% (203) fewer than during the same period of 2021 (1,295).

Commenting on the latest figures, Colin Smyth said: “Every single drug death is a tragedy and we should never forget that behind each of these figures is a person whose life has been cut far too short and a family who have lost a loved one.

“The figures for Dumfries and Galloway have shown little change to the previous year and remain double the level they were just five years, which highlights just how much work still needs to be done.

“Cuts in funding for rehab a few years ago are still taking a heavy toll, and just with any disease, we urgently need to see more investment to treat what is ultimately a health crisis.

“Unless we tackle the underlying causes of this disease such as poverty, poor housing, and the shocking education attainment gap, then we will fail to get to grips on the crisis.”

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