Scotland’s First Minister has been urged to back legislative proposals to ensure those at “death’s door” from drug and alcohol addiction can access recovery.

The Right to Addiction Recovery Bill, introduced by Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, is set to be officially launched in Holyrood today.

If passed, it gives addicts access to appropriate treatment as soon as practicable, and within three weeks at most.

Ahead of the Member’s Bill’s launch, Mr Ross has urged John Swinney to throw the weight of his government behind the proposals to avoid additional delays in bringing forward the legislation.

The Scottish Tory leader said the Bill could be an “absolute gamechanger”.

Official data from the National Records of Scotland showed 1,051 people died from drugs misuse in 2022 and 1,276 from alcohol in the same year.

Police Scotland figures published in March this year that estimated 1,197 drug-related deaths in 2023.

READ MORE: Scottish drug deaths rise 11% in latest figures published

The Bill was developed in conjunction with frontline experts, including Annemarie Ward, chief executive of the UK charity, Faces and Voices of Recovery (Favor).

Its financial memorandum suggests additional investment of between £28.5 million and £38 million annually would be required to help fund residential rehabilitation spots and other appropriate treatments.

Asked whether he thought the First Minister could back the Bill, Mr Ross said: “I’m very hopeful. This is not a controversial Bill. It’s not partisan.

“It’s a Bill that seeks to save lives. We know that Scotland has an appalling record for drug and alcohol deaths and it’s not just the worst in the UK, but the worst anywhere in Europe, so something must be done.”

He said the Bill on its own was not a “silver bullet”.

Mr Ross said “far too many lives have been lost” during the long process of introducing the Member’s Bill.

He added: “This crisis is our national shame and our most vulnerable cannot continue to see those in charge fail to take the necessary and decisive action required to save lives.

“As this Bill launches today, in the spirit of him saying he wants to work across the chamber, I urge John Swinney to throw his weight behind it, so it can become law as soon as possible.”

Ms Ward said: “Scotland cannot keep failing the most vulnerable people in society. The drug death crisis has hit the poorest communities the hardest.

“Until the Scottish Parliament overhauls the treatment system, more families will be left broken from the pain of losing a loved one.

“The Right to Recovery Bill would help people at death’s door get the treatment they need and deserve.

“I hope every single politician who wants to help vulnerable people in Scotland will engage with the Bill and consider supporting it.”

READ MORE: Scotland's drug deaths crisis is rooted in economic factors

The Bill will undergo scrutiny from an allocated lead committee, with experts likely to give evidence in Holyrood.

Its general principles will then be debated and voted on in the Scottish Parliament, with amendments put forward at stage two before a final vote which could see it become law.

Drugs and alcohol minister Christina McKelvie said the government will take time to “consider” the proposals.

She said: We’re already taking a holistic, human rights-based approach where problematic drug use is treated as a health, not a criminal matter. Our £250 million national mission – informed by people with lived and living experience – aims to get people into the treatment and recovery that is right for them while supporting them to address other social and economic needs.

“We’re also supporting the ‘national collaborative’ process to develop a Charter of Rights for people affected by substance use through engagement with communities across Scotland.

“The most recent benchmarking report highlighted substantial progress in the rollout of our life-saving Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Standards which aim to improve access and choice of treatment.

“We’ll continue to drive this, as well as expanding access to residential services and community-based support, mental health services and housing. This approach reflects increasing concerns about increasingly unpredictable and toxic drug supply which potentially impacts a much wider group of people using drugs.”