Grim price of drugs failure; RecordView.
The news that drug- and drink-related deaths have reached record levels should stop the nation in its tracks. But each year, as the graph moves upwards, we shrug our shoulders.
There were 584 recorded deaths in 2011 - up by 99 per cent on the previous year and by 76 per cent in a decade.
The state-prescribed heroin substitute methadone was linked to nearly half of deaths, with heroin and morphine accounting for a third.
Some people might ask: So what? Drug addicts get short shrift from society.
Many of us like to pretend the problem doesn't exist or think that addicts get what they deserve when they dice with death.
But in a compassionate society, each of these deaths should be seen for what it is - a terrible waste of a life and a tragedy for the families and friends left behind.
Appealing to sentimentality might not be the basis for a policy, but appealing to our pockets certainly is. Drug addiction costs our health care, justice, social services and education systems millions.
The preferred solution for dealing with heroin addiction is methadone. The forlorn hope, the official line, is that addicts will gradually be able to reduce their drug intake without suffering traumatic withdrawal symptoms.
But the stats and the anecdotal evidence show that drug abusers are topping up their methadone with illegal street heroin, often with fatal consequences.
Drug addiction is a chronic, deep-seated problem in some parts of Scotland and turning things around is no easy task.
The alternatives to methadone containment - recovery treatments and abstinence programmes - cost a lot and have a patchy success rate.
But they do offer hope. And it is clearly madness to carry on with the same policy for more than a decade when it contributes to a rise in the death rate.