The news is shocking; shocking in how long it has been in coming.

Authorities in Glasgow have announced plans for Scotland's first drug-injecting facility and heroin-assisted treatment.

As they did so they made an admission, an honest one: this country, they said, is "decades behind" other European nations on helping problematic drug users.

They are right. They are right to move to open what newspapers sometimes call a "shooting gallery" and "smack on the NHS" and they are right to say this has taken too long to happen.

Doctors have been arguing for years that consumption rooms - and heroin on prescription - will help the most vulnerable and chaotic drugs users, the men and women most likely to die.

Two years ago the Scottish Government's own advisors joined the chorus of experts urging such reforms. Roy Robertson and Saket Priyadarsh in 2014 said there was "considerable potential to reduce the number of drug-related deaths by undertaking targeted harm reduction measures".

The Government was not convinced. Asked about drug consumption rooms, it replied there were no such plans "due to the ethical and legal issues raised by such proposals".

Local authorities - drug and alcohol partnerships made up of council and NHS officials - until now have heard the mood music from Edinburgh and avoided any pilot projects. Privately some addictions officials have admitted that nobody wants to be first: no single authority wants to take the brunt of tabloid rage.

Meanwhile, Scotland's death toll has continued to rise. The last figures, for 2014, revealed 614 fatalities. And an estimated 500 chaotic drug users continue to inject in public places.

Providing somewhere safe for such addicts to take their drugs is not just better for them. It is better for all of us. Council and NHS staff are blunt: public space injecting is "putting the general public at risk". It means needles in car parks, toilets and closes. And it means anti-social behaviour and disease, including blood-born viruses such as HIV/Aids. There were 47 new Aids infections in Glasgow last year.

Europe, Canada, Australia and now Ireland have all adopted consumption rooms. Decades of evidence suggests this has reduced fatalities and provided some of the most vulnerable users access to their first health and other services.

Scotland likes to imagine itself as a progressive beacon. It has not been so on drugs. Politicians continue to wage the same old arguments about whether heroin replacements like methadone are better than abstinence while rejecting any facility that would allow addicts to consume "illegal drugs".

The time for such arguments should be over. It is time for policy makers to catch up with international best practice and the knowledge of their own experts. There are drug users for whom abstinence programmes will work. There are users for whom methadone will is the right response. And there are a small number of desperately vulnerable addicts for whom the only answer, perhaps for a short period, is to provide safe heroin and a safe place to consume it. There may well be people who at one time or another of their drug-using career fall in to all three categories. It is time for Holyrood to admit this.