Gary Kelly and Bruce Munro, reforming drug users from Glasgow, count themselves lucky. They have survived the kind of lethal addictions to substances that have left Scotland with the highest drug-related death rate in the European Union, according to official Scottish statistics. And both are now in a rehabilitation programme at a residential clinic paid for by local authorities that they hope will turn around, and even save, their lives. “I’ll die if I go out there and I’m not ready,” said Kelly, 46, a dad-of-two who has worked most of his adult life in construction but slowly succumbed to an alcohol, cocaine and opioids addiction. Munro, 45, also a father-of-two, now estranged from his family, developed a heroin addiction while serving a 10-year prison sentence for armed robbery. Eventually becoming homeless after his release and addicted to other drugs, he said he nearly died from several overdoses and knows at least a dozen people who have lost their lives to drugs in the last year. “They were at their rock bottom, reaching out for help, and they just never got help in time,” he said, sitting in the rehab centre’s hotel-like sitting room. After years of British government-led austerity cuts to services as well as cheap new cocktails of drugs increasingly prevalent, Munro thinks the situation may get worse still. “I don’t even think it’s reached its peak yet … There’s going to be many more deaths.” ‘Trainspotting Generation’ Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, is the epicentre of a substance abuse crisis, which saw an unprecedented 1,187 drug-related deaths last year across the nation of 5.4 million people, according to the National Records of Scotland office, which said the rate was the EU’s highest. Figures for England and Wales released last month by Britain’s Office of National Statistics show drug deaths there have also reached record levels. The Scottish rates – which have nearly doubled over four years – appear on a par with the United States, where the level of deaths from opioids has been declared a public health emergency. The nation’s historical problems with heroin addiction became infamous worldwide following Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle’s 1996 hit film “Trainspotting”. More than two decades on, the drug death rates are being fuelled by a so-called Trainspotting generation, who began predominantly using heroin in the 1980s and 1990s. “There’s a generation of people who’ve been using drugs for so long,” said David Brockett, a manager at Phoenix Futures, the charity running the rehab clinic. “Their health issues are so severe that if they currently keep using, a large minority of them are going to end up dying through a drug-related death.” ‘They’re Using Everything’ The annual drug death statistics released in July by the Scottish records office show that multiple substance abuse is to blame in the vast majority of victims’ cases. Heroin and synthetic opioids like methadone, codeine and oxycodone were involved in 86 per cent of the 2018 fatalities. “Street valium” depressants – benzodiazepines also known as “benzos” sold on the streets in bulk for as little as 15 pence (US$0.18) a pill – were also found in two-thirds of cases.