FIFE's Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) has said it expects to see improvements in coming years after recent figures showed the region had a "significantly higher rate" of drug-related hospital admissions than the Scotland average.

Greens Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Mark Ruskell raised his concerns about the statistics, which showed that 831 people were admitted to hospital last year for drug-related conditions in the Kingdom.

Fife had a rate of 322.07 per 100,000 population of admissions related to drugs while the Scotland-wide figure was 282.24.

Mr Ruskell said the latest statistics showed the depth of Fife and Scotland's drug crisis.

"The number of patients receiving treatment has steadily increased in recent years and has more than doubled in the last 10 years," he said.

"NHS Fife also has a significantly higher rate of drug-related hospital admissions than Scotland as a whole.

“Rising hospital admissions reflect that failure to engage meaningfully with the evidence around harm reduction and people are suffering as a result.

“The drugs crisis is a public health issue and countries which recognise that have had far better outcomes than here in Scotland.

“Criminalisation has done nothing but led to a callous attitude towards those suffering addiction and it’s time to urgently change direction.”

A spokesperson for the Fife ADP, which is a strategic partnership of the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership, said it was "fully committed" to the prevention of drug-related harms and deaths.

"In response to the rising number of drug-related admissions, caused by co-occurring physical and mental health difficulties, poly drug use and an ageing population, the ADP has developed a hospital liaison service – provided by NHS Fife and third sector organisations – to ensure those with alcohol or drug needs presenting at A&E or admitted to a ward are offered support and treatment firstly in the hospital and then in their community when they are discharged," said the spokesperson.

"The specific aims of this are to prevent further harm to the individual and reduce the number or representations and admissions at hospital.

"We expect to see improvement in these areas in the years to come as the service becomes more fully embedded and increases its reach and capacity.

"Significant additional funding allocated to Fife from the Scottish Government’s Drug Mission Team will be directed towards reaching more people at risk of drug-related harm and death and providing evidence-based community and residential support, treatment and recovery opportunities throughout all communities in Fife.”