THE tragedy of the increasing number of drug related deaths in Scotland – a rise that's particularly marked for women – surely makes clear that we are simply not doing enough to support people with substance misuse issues. There have been worrying cuts to services. And though methadone might help some stabilise their addiction and lead them to recovery, the fact that the heroin substitute is implicated in almost half of drug deaths suggests that for others the expert follow-on support that makes life worth living is lacking.

The Scottish Recovery Consortium describe these as "deaths of distress". It says it's time regard drug deaths, as well as deaths from alcohol, suicide and even obesity, as symptoms of structural societal problems that we need understand if we can ever hope to solve them.

There have been calls to the Scottish Government to declare a public health emergency that might help them put in place special measures such as drug consumption rooms where medical grade heroin could be safely consumed. Others say that investment not only in trauma-informed services but in the type of social support offered by Recovery Cafes – helping people move beyond surviving and start thriving – is key.

The Scottish Government, due to launch its long-awaited refresh of its drugs and alcohol strategy in coming months, acknowledges this is first and foremost a public health issue. It claims it's not afraid of taking unpopular or controversial action in the implementation of evidence based changes. Let's hope it also recognises that it's a justice issue. Because everyone deserves the help to get substance misuse under control, and live life to the fullest.