THE headlines this week were dominated by Scotland’s drugs crisis, as shocking statistics laid bare the havoc being wreaked in communities across the country.

With almost 1,200 drug-related deaths registered in Scotland last year, the scale of human misery is almost impossible to get to grips with. It was the largest number ever recorded. Deaths have more than doubled in a decade. People are dying in Scotland at almost three times the rate of England.

Everyone agrees that something must be done. But as is so often the case, not everyone agrees on the solutions. And following the publication of the National Records of Scotland figures, it didn’t take long for political parties to go on the attack.

READ MORE: Scottish ministers could - and should - do more to end drug deaths

The SNP ramped up calls for a drug consumption facility in Glasgow, which would allow users to take drugs under the supervision of medical staff. Drug laws are reserved to Westminster, and the UK Home Office has so far refused to consider the plans.

“How many people need to die before Tory ministers will finally admit there is a problem?” the party’s Alison Thewliss asked. “Their obstinance has a human cost, and never before has it been so pronounced.”

Within minutes, Scottish Conservative public health spokeswoman Annie Wells had accused the SNP Government of failing “every single one of these vulnerable people who’ve lost their lives to ruinous drug addiction”.

“Predictably, in their desperation, the nationalists are now pinning their hopes on consumption rooms, because they know it’s something the UK Government does not agree with,” she said.

“That’s a cowardly approach from those ministers who’re meant to be taking responsibility.”

Supporters point to the strong evidence behind drug consumption rooms, and it’s easy to understand their frustration in the face of apparent UK intransigence.

But for many, it was exasperating to see yet another constitutional row break out – especially when everyone agrees such a facility is not a silver bullet.

Predictably, elements of social media descended into partisan mud-slinging. Some politicians didn’t help things either.

On Twitter, Angus Brendan MacNeil, the SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, retweeted another user who appeared to dismiss a distressing BBC story about a family devastated by drugs. Jacquie, from Fife, lost her father, mother, two sisters and brother to drug abuse.

“They’re really banging the drug deaths propaganda on the BBC,” the person wrote. “Scotland is kept in an artificial perma-recession. Our resources are stolen. Scotland is plagued by hopelessness. Of course we have a high drugs death rate. Only independence can fix this.”

It’s difficult to see how such interventions help anyone.

Tackling Scotland’s drugs crisis will require radical action. There are no easy solutions, and no quick fixes. Both the UK and Scottish governments need to face the issue head on, and every political party in Scotland will have ideas worth hearing.

That means UK ministers will need to fully engage with the problem, instead of simply issuing stock responses. Appearing before Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee, which has been examining the crisis in detail, would be a start.

And while the Scottish Government seems focused on highlighting the powers reserved to Westminster, experts agree there are concrete steps it could take right now – including pumping extra funds into key services.

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick has put much weight on a new drugs death task force, which will help thrash out a way forward. This aims to support the delivery of the Scottish Government’s alcohol and drugs strategy.

But this strategy was published in November last year. The task force was officially announced in March, and its chair, Stirling University’s Professor Catriona Matheson, was only confirmed at the beginning of July. Ministers say further details about the group’s membership will be announced in due course. This seems like slow progress.

Earlier this week, the Scottish Tories called for a cross-party summit on the drugs crisis. This would begin “a serious and detailed conversation about how to tackle this national emergency”.

Mr FitzPatrick said the Scottish Government has already agreed it will host such an event, “where UK Government representatives, local authorities and the chair of our new drug deaths task force will be invited, ensuring the voices of those with experience of using drugs, and their families, are heard”.

However it happens, cross-party talks are now vital. No party has a monopoly on good ideas – and proposals backed by a spectrum of opinion will hold all the more weight.

MSPs from Scottish Labour, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the Scottish Greens have also launched a petition urging an “evidence-led” approach to drug policy that could include decriminalisation.

READ MORE: Calls for cross-party action to tackle Scotland’s drugs deaths ’emergency’

It comes after the Daily Record newspaper – which has done much to highlight Scotland’s drugs shame – also backed such a move. This feels like a crucial moment.

We live in an age of division, fuelled by constitutional upheaval. Politicians are bitterly opposed over Brexit and independence. There’s a good chance the UK could crash out of the EU in just a few months’ time. No one knows what will happen next.

In such a chaotic climate, there’s a real risk Scotland’s drugs crisis will sink beneath the surface, swallowed up by the turmoil engulfing the UK’s political institutions. Focus will turn elsewhere – before the issue explodes back into the spotlight next summer, when yet another grim set of statistics are published.

The late David McLetchie, a former Scottish Tory leader, said conflict is the essence of politics. And so it should be. But sometimes, striving to work together, to reach across party lines, is just as important.