The bleak warning was issued by a former top cop as new figures revealed the city last year recorded its highest number of drug deaths for the last 10 years.
There were 135 drug related deaths in Glasgow last year.
The rise in deaths, up 11% on the previous year, and almost 50% higher than in 1999, has led to fears that the addiction problem in the city is growing.
Across Scotland the number of drug deaths reduced slightly, and in the other cities it either fell or was static, but in Glasgow, which has had a hard drug problem for the last 30 years, it has been on the rise again.
The majority of deaths were among people in the 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 age groups, an illustration of the long term nature of the drug issue, with some addicts having a chronic problem dating back 20 years or more.
The Government said the death toll was too high and was working to reduce it, but a former head of the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency said their efforts are not effective.
Former police deputy chief constable, Graeme Pearson, now Professor of Organised Crime at Glasgow University, said economic decline breeds crime and drug abuse and warned the Government their tactics were failing to address all the issues.
He said: “You need the right housing, the right health and right employment response.
“What is happening in the drug abusing population is down to overall lifestyle.
“They are not only taking heroin, but methadone and diazepam and others drugs including alcohol. Alcohol is a factor in a third of drug related deaths.
“There is a blatant disregard for self worth.
“The current Government drugs strategy fails in the overall approach.
“Their response has been to say ‘we have spent £180 million’, but it needs to pay attention to what it is spending its money on.
“In Glasgow, drugs became an issue in the 1980s, which coincided with the closure of the shipyards and engineering works. It is the absence of alternatives which has allowed our communities to spiral into drug abuse.
“It is a worry in these times of economic downturn, as unemployment is an opportunity for criminals to make money.”
Of the 545 drug-related deaths in Scotland last year, most (60%) were heroin or morphine related, methadone was involved in 32%, benzodiazepines accounted for 28%, and cocaine was implicated in 6%.
Alcohol was a factor in 165 deaths (30%).
Opposition politicians criticised a lack of prevention and called for more education targeted at the young.
Labour’s community safety spokesman, Rutherglen MSP James Kelly, said: “Particularly worrying is the number of children and young adults who become involved in occasional drug-taking and develop a serious dependency at an early age.
“More work needs to go into prevention and intervention programmes as well as into a renewed effort on educating young people about the dangers of drugs.”
Murdo Fraser MSP, Scottish Conservative Deputy Leader, said: “The attempts of the last decade to merely manage the problem, based on harm reduction and an over reliance on methadone have not worked.
“The challenge now is to expand the range of rehabilitation services on offer and move to abstinence and recovery.”
Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing said: “These figures remind us that drug misuse destroys lives.
“The Scottish Government believes that our national drugs strategy, the Road to Recovery, will make a difference.
“It provides the framework for a generational change in our approach to tackling problem drug use and reducing drug related deaths through a focus on recovery.”
General Register Office for Scotland - Drug Related Deaths in Scotland