DAMNING new figures reveal that Inverclyde has the worst record for drug abuse in the country.

Latest statistics paint a grim picture with the district coming out with highest prevalence of drug use overall.

The number of young men who are affected is twice as high as the national average.

Of particular concern to local health chiefs is the high rate of drug abuse among young people aged 15 to 24.

It comes as the health and social care partnership looks at a radical shake-up of both drug and alcohol services.

Bosses have successfully applied for a £150,000 grant from the government to improve treatments and access to services.

A report to the Inverclyde Joint Integration board by chief officer Louise Long said: "Problematic alcohol and drug misuse harms individuals, families and communities.

"These issues impact on all communities from the wellbeing of children to the increased demand on our local services; and on the ability for those affected to contribute to the local economy and community.

"People with alcohol and drug problems are more likely, for example, to have persistent difficulties sustaining their own home and be involved with the criminal justice system."

The health and social care partnership is currently carrying out a review into creating a fully integrated alcohol and drug service.

Director Ms Long has highlighted a need to bring the area into line with practices elsewhere and introduce more flexible treatments.

Local figures produced show that drug use among young men aged 15 to 24 stands at a rate of 3.09 per cent, twice the figure for Scotland for the same age group and sex.

In Inverclyde as whole the prevalence rate for drug abuse is 2.9 per cent, again twice as high as the rest of Scotland.

Inverclyde also has long-term problems with alcohol abuse and the problems persist.

Alcohol-related deaths are considerably higher that than the national average at 32 per 100,000 here, compared with 23 per 100,000 for the country as a whole.

The rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions in 2016/17 for Inverclyde was 991.7 per 100,000.

In Scotland it was 685.2 per 100,000.

As a result of the area's drug and alcohol problems, Inverclyde has shorter life expectancy than elsewhere and a higher proportion of child protection registrations are due to parental drug and alcohol use.