Drug related deaths including suicides and overdoses increased by 13 per cent last year to almost 3,000, new statistics have shown.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also reveal a three fold rise in deaths related to legal highs, which stood at 104 last year.
Policy director at the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Alex Burghart, said: “It is vital we clamp down on these highly dangerous drugs before they claim more lives.”
The ONS also recorded a surge in the number of cases where mental health problems were linked to drug use.
The figures come alongside a crackdown on legal highs in Edinburgh which saw more than 3,000 packets of such substances confiscated by police.
Around 70 officers were involved in an operation which targeted three premises across the city.
Representatives from Trading Standards and Environmental Health visited an additional eight premises in order to raise awareness of the risks of legal highs, also called new psychoactive substances (NPS).
Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Houston, said: “Police Scotland is committed to keeping people safe and to stopping the sale of any substances which may cause harm to our communities.”
He added: “I would strongly urge our communities never to consume any of the NPS material currently being sold at premises across the country.”
Posters which read “Legal doesn’t mean safe” are being put up around Edinburgh as part of a wider campaign to warn young people about the dangers of legal highs.
Last month, the CSJ said that shops which sell so-called legal highs should be tackled in order to protect young people.
It called for a law similar to one in Ireland which dramatically reduced the number of ‘head shops’ – from more than 100 to fewer than 10.