Drug-deaths in the north-east are at their highest level in at least 10 years, new figures revealed today.
A total of 92 people in the NHS Grampian area died a drug-related death last year.
Across Scotland more than 1,100 people died from drugs last year, new figures indicate.
There were 1,187 drug-related deaths registered in 2018 – above 1,000 for the first time and up 253 (27%) on the previous year.
The National Records of Scotland statistics indicate Scotland’s drug death rate is nearly triple the UK rate.
The drug death rate in Scotland is higher than that reported for any other EU country.
It is at its highest level since current records began in 1996 and more than double the 2008 figure of 574.
The health board area with the highest proportion of drug deaths in 2018 was Greater Glasgow and Clyde at 394 (33%).
Scotland’s Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said the country faces an “emergency” on this issue.
He said: “The number of people who have lost their lives because of drug use is shocking.
“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.
“Last week, I gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee and I asked for help in persuading the UK Government to either act now to enable us to implement a range of public health focused responses – including the introduction of supervised drug consumption facilities – or devolve the power to the Scottish Parliament so that we can act.
“I want to ensure that the work of the new taskforce which I have established is driven by strong evidence and the voices of those with experience of using drugs, and their families, are heard.
“I am determined to shape our services in every walk of life to prevent harm and reduce the appalling number of deaths.
“So I will give consideration to any proposals they bring forward which may help to tackle this issue and, ultimately, save lives.”