More than 580 people suffered a drug-related death last year, the highest total ever recorded and 20% more than the previous year's figure of 485.
One in every 100 deaths in Scotland last year was linked to drugs, with the largest number of victims aged between 35 and 44. There were 212 deaths in this age group alone.
The statistics show that those who were exposed to the first wave of widespread heroin abuse in Scotland late last century are now paying the ultimate price.
Last night, Scotland's Community Safety Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, said no government had done more to address the legacy of decades of drug abuse than the SNP, and vowed to continue to tackle the tragedy.
She added: "Scotland has a legacy of drug misuse that stretches back decades, creating this upward 10-year trend in drug-related deaths."
But Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said 11 people a week on average were dying from the scourge of drugs and added: "This appalling loss of life illustrates the human disaster that is the methadone programme.
"It would appear hundreds of families are being blighted by what is little more than legalised drug-taking on an industrial scale."
Biba Brand, head of the Scottish Drug Forum's National Quality Development Programme, said that in many cases the lifestyles of older drug users were catching up with them after years of abuse.
She said: "When you look at these figures in terms of where the deaths are happening, you find a higher number of drug users in the cities where heroin use was first introduced to Scotland.
"Many of these people's lives have been chaotic, and their drug use has given them physical and mental health problems. Many have also had traumatic events in their lives.
"They are just not able to use drugs in the same way. It's the same with alcoholics in that their bodies cannot cope with it as they get older."
Almost three-quarters of those who died last year were men – 429 compared to 155 women. The Registrar General figures also showed a rise in deaths where the heroin substitute methadone was taken.
Methadone contributed to 47% of all 584 drug deaths while heroin and/or morphine was implicated in 35%. Methadone, which can be prescribed to addicts to help them kick their habit, was involved in 275 deaths last year – up from 174 in 2010.
The number of deaths involving heroin and/or morphine fell over the same period, going from 254 in 2010 to 206 last year.
However, Ms Brand said this did not mean drug addiction services were contributing to the number of deaths, as the forum's research showed the majority of methadone-related fatalities were among people to whom it had not been prescribed. Last year also saw an influx of a poorer grade of heroin, leading many addicts to switch to methadone.
Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, contributed to 185 drug-related deaths – 32% of all such fatalities. Cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy were involved in 36, 24 and eight deaths respectively.
Hit 1996 film Trainspotting starred Ewan McGregor and followed heroin addicts in a struggling area of Edinburgh in the late 1980s and their passage through life.
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