Drug-related admissions to Scotland’s hospitals have more than trebled in just over two decades, according to new figures.

Rates for admissions linked to opioids – such as heroin, morphine and codeine – increased by more than 400 per cent over the period between 1996-97 and 2018-19.

Meanwhile, hospital admission rates for cocaine soared, with the figures showing a rise of 3,065 per cent over the period.

The latest data from Public Health Scotland covers hospital cases where inpatient treatment was needed and does not include accident and emergency patients who were not admitted for treatment.

These showed that in 2018-19 there were 259.9 hospital admissions linked to drugs per 100,000 people – up from 73.38 in 1996-97.

The report said: “Between 1996-97 and 2018-19, there was a greater than threefold increase in the rate of drug-related hospital stays in Scotland from 73 to 260 stays per 100,000 population.”

Admissions linked to opioid use increased from 73.38 per 100,000 of population in 1996-97 to 259.9 per 100,000 in 2018-19.

Over the same period, admissions linked to cocaine use increased from 0.98 per 100,000 to 31.02 per 100,000, according to the data.

Admissions involving those aged between 35 and 44 increased from 56 to 501 per 100,000 population between 1996-7 and 2018-19.

The figures also showed that admissions for 15 to 24-year-olds increased from 126 per 100,000 population in 2012-13 to 206 per 100,000 six years later.

The number of cases where people were admitted to general hospitals more than quadrupled, going from 51 stays per 100,000 population to 219 in 2018-19.

The figures also showed that “after a period of relative stability” the rate of drug-related psychiatric hospital stays increased from 29 to 41 stays per 100,000 population between 2014-15 and 2018-19.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Although these statistics pre-date the pandemic, they continue to show that drug and alcohol support must be maintained as priority services and we have ensured those at risk have access to these services throughout the current crisis.

“Between April 2020 and June 2020, 95.3% of the 7,195 people who started their first drug or alcohol treatment waited three weeks or less, which has been a consistent trend over the past three years.

“Our drug death taskforce has continued to meet during the pandemic and has made a number of recommendations that were acted upon to mitigate harms from Covid-19-related service disruption and the potential impact on individuals.

“We want to ensure everyone who requires drug and alcohol treatment has access to it and our budget commits a further £20 million to reduce the harm caused by drugs.

“This means the total Scottish Government spend on drugs and alcohol in 2020-21 will be up to £95.3 million.”