Nicola Sturgeon has admitted parts of her government’s response to Scotland’s drug deaths crisis have "failed" as she came under pressure to introduce a legal right to rehabilitation.
The First Minister conceded her SNP administration "has much, much more to do" but denied that the spiralling number of drug deaths, which have doubled over the past decade, showed the treatment system was "broken".
But Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, raised the "shocking" case of a man who has been trying to get into a rehabilitation centre for two years without success.
He urged Ms Sturgeon to back his party’s plans for a Right to Recovery Bill that would enshrine a right to necessary addiction treatment in law.
The Tories will publish their proposals before Holyrood rises for its summer break next week.
The exchanges at First Minister’s Questions came after official figures published in December found Scotland’s drug deaths had surged to a new record and remained by far the worst in Europe.
They showed a six per cent rise to 1,264 deaths last year, around three-and-a-half times that of the UK as a whole. Dundee City Council had the worst drug death rate in Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon responded by sacking Joe FitzPatrick as Public Health Minister and setting up a new group that has promised new treatment standards, which will ensure drug users start receiving support on the day they ask for it.
Angela Constance, Mr FitzPatrick’s replacement, unveiled an extra £14.4 million to tackle the crisis on Thursday, including £800,000 for "a campaign to tackle the stigma around drug use".
But Mr Ross said: "The SNP government’s addiction treatment system is fundamentally broken. The new standards that will be introduced are not game-changing.
"They are the basics – the very least the government should do.
"Unless we give them a legal basis, they are effectively optional and can be overlooked. This government has been in power for 14 years. How much longer do we have to wait for the real action needed to tackle this crisis?”
Raising the the case of a man in Glasgow waiting two years for treatment, Mr Ross said the man has repeatedly been told he is “not appropriate for rehab.”
"This man is at death’s door. Today he is having a mental health assessment," he said. "Just another hoop he has to jump through because he wants to get better. His only hope, it seems, is private rehab because of a charity’s generosity.
"This individual case is shocking. But it is being repeated all over our country."
Mr Sturgeon said she would look with an open mind at any proposals that are brought forward, including proposals for legislation.
She added: "I do accept that the Government’s response hasn’t always matched that and that’s what we’ve got to get right. I think we have failed in aspects of drugs policy and I am determined to get it right.
“We have to provide the funding, we have to provide the right approaches and that is what there is an absolute determination and many different strands of work now underway to achieve."