That was the stark message from Sam Galbraith, minister for health and social work at The Scottish Office, when he addressed a National Drugs Conference in the Glasgow.
He said: 'There is a perception that our drugs problem is a runaway train we will never be able to slow down - never mind stop. Wrong. We lost nearly 200 lives to that train last year.
'There is a perception that those working to solve this problem are too busy arguing on the platform to notice the train passing them by. Wrong.
'We must strike up partnerships, look for new ways of working together, integrate our efforts and make common cause. The Scottish Office will shortly be publishing a guide to assist local authorities in planning and developing services for people who misuse alcohol and drugs. The guide acknowledges the key role which social work departments have in co-ordinating community based services.
'Another partner in our action against drugs misuse is the police. The number of officers in force drug squads has increased from 30 in 1979 to 111 in 1996. Nevertheless more can be done to tackle the obvious links between drugs and crime. The Scottish Office's crime prevention unit is therefore developing proposals, in consultation with COSLA to provide easier access to sporting, leisure and other facilities for young people at risk of offending.'