The number of people in Scotland receiving treatment for problem drinking has dropped 40% in the past eight years, sparking new calls by the Scottish Conservatives for a right to treatment to be enshrined in law.
A total of 19,617 people accessed alcohol treatment programmes in 2021/22 compared to 32,556 in 2013/14, according to figures obtained by the Tories.
The finding comes after official figures published last month showed there were 1,276 deaths in Scotland as a result of alcohol misuse in 2022 – the highest number of alcohol-related deaths recorded in 14 years.
The treatment figures were obtained by Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs in a written answer to a question he asked of the Scottish Government minister for drug and alcohol policy, Elena Whitham.
Mr Briggs said the figures were “deeply alarming”.
The party spokesman for social security, housing and equalities argued the statistics underlined the need for the Right to Recovery Bill first proposed by party leader Douglas Ross in 2021 ahead of the Holyrood election.
The Bill, if passed, would enshrine in law the right of everyone with a drug or alcohol problem to receive the treatment they need.
Mr Briggs said: “It is a shameful reflection of the SNP’s mishandling of Scotland’s alcohol crisis that the number of people accessing treatment programmes has been slashed at the same time as the number dying due to problem drinking has soared.
“It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that these two sets of stats are interlinked.
“It beggars belief that SNP ministers would allow treatment places to be dramatically cut when alcohol death rates are at a 14-year high.”
He added: “They admitted that they took their eye off the ball on drug deaths – increasingly it seems they have again on deaths by alcohol.
“And we know, as with Scotland’s drugs-death emergency, it’s those Scots living in the most deprived areas who are most at risk from the lack of necessary support.
“These deeply alarming figures reinforce the need for the SNP to get behind the Right to Recovery Bill now.
“This legislation, which has the backing of experts, charities and those with lived experience, would ensure that every Scot can access the potentially life-saving treatment they need to tackle their addiction to alcohol or drugs.”
The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.
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