More than 1,100 people died from drugs in Scotland last year, new figures indicate, the worst level since records began.

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%).

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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."

SNP MP Pete Wishart, Chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee, said the figures must prompt a change in drugs policy at Westminster.

He said: "Today's disturbing figures show just how severely the UK Government's current drugs policy is failing the people of Scotland.

"Westminster must wake up to the reality that a new, evidence-based approach to drugs is needed.

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"My Committee is now concluding its evidence-taking for our drugs inquiry, and will shortly be publishing a report which will set out a number of strong recommendations on what the UK Government should be doing to prevent the loss of further life in Scotland."

Scottish Labour's health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon MSP, said: "Scotland's drug crisis is out of control and the status quo cannot continue.

"That is why Scottish Labour has consistently called on SNP ministers to declare a public health emergency and use every power available to them to tackle this crisis.

"But it is clear the UK Government must also reassess its approach and listen to experts and those living with substance misuse to find the best way to stop more families being left heartbroken."