A free phone service where staff will stay on the line with people who are using drugs is to launch this month.

The anonymous helpline, called “Never Use Alone”, is being trialled in North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and Glasgow, before being rolled out across Scotland.

It will be run by the charity We Are With You, who say they will focus only on the safety of drug users.

The helpline has been backed with £100,000 from the Scottish Government.

Ministers say it is the first phone service of its kind in Europe.

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance said: “I welcome this phone line which will be operated by We Are With You and which will undoubtedly play a part in tackling Scotland’s drug deaths crisis.

“Many of those people who have lost their life while using drugs were alone at the time and I encourage people to take advantage of this service – the first of its kind in Europe – to help them stay safe.

“While backing this service, we are also continuing to work to overcome existing legal barriers to implement safe consumption rooms in Scotland.”

Andrew Horne, executive director of We Are With You, said: “The scale of the problem we’re facing in Scotland demands urgent, radical action and we want to do everything we can to help tackle this crisis.

“This phone line is about keeping people safe. Our staff will ensure they are aware what substances an individual has taken and what they are intending to take.

“They will also find out exactly where they are in case the emergency services are required.

“We hope that we can provide people with the support they need at the time they call in but also that we can take the opportunity to encourage them to seek help from services which provide the support which is right for them in the longer term.”

The free phone number for Never Use Alone is 0808 801 0690.