The Scottish Government should prioritise setting up specialist drug and alcohol treatment centres for younger people, a new report has said.

The study said there were “worrying signs of increasing alcohol and drug-related harms among those of younger ages”.

It noted that the lack of specific treatment facilities for the younger age group had been highlighted in a 2009 report by Audit Scotland - adding that the issue was “more pressing today”.

The report, published on the Scottish Government website, therefore recommended that ministers “develop residential and community treatment and recovery services tailored towards the different drug-profile and developmental needs of younger groups”.

It added: “This should be prioritised as a lack of suitability of existing services has been identified as a barrier to uptake of services among younger people.

“Development of such services should include the development of both residential rehabilitation and community treatment and recovery services which cater for the specific needs of younger people.”

More than 70 per cent of those entering structured community or residential services for problem drug use in 2015-16 started using drugs before the age of 25, the report noted, adding that three-quarters (75 per cent) of those who died from drug-related causes that year had been using drugs for a decade or more.

With Scotland in “the midst of a drugs death crisis” after a record 1,339 fatalities in 2020, it stressed the importance of helping people at a younger age.

The report said that tackling problematic alcohol and drug use among younger people was “vital”.

However, work by the Scottish Government revealed there were “no residential services tailored towards the specific needs of children and younger people in Scotland”.