The number of people suspected of having lost their lives to drugs in Dumfries and Galloway has reached record levels.

Forty-four people across the region are believed to have died as a result of substance abuse in 2021 – 15 more than the previous year.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth described the rise as “very concerning”.

He said: “We should never forget that behind each of these figures is a person whose life has been cut far too short.

“It’s not good enough just to hear the Scottish Government express regret every time new figures are published, we need action.

“Cuts in funding for rehab a few years ago are taking a heavy toll and, as with any disease, we urgently need to see more investment to treat people.”

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