Scotland's alcohol deaths hit highest level in 14 years

Over 1,200 people died as a result of alcohol-related illnesses in the last year, according to new data.

Alcohol deaths in Scotland last year hit the highest level since 2008, figures show.

Statistics from the National Records of Scotland show 1,276 people died due to alcohol in 2022, 31 more than the previous year.

The poorest in Scotland, the figures showed, were more than four times more likely to die because of alcohol than those in the least deprived areas.

The age standardised mortality rate – which provides a weighted average per 100,000 of population – for those in the least affluent 20% of areas was 41.7, compared with just 9.6 in the richest 20%.

The majority of deaths in 2022 were recorded in men, with 836 deaths logged.


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This was the same figure as the previous year, meaning the entirety of the increase in deaths was recorded in women.

Drugs minister Elena Whitham said: “Every life lost is a tragedy and my sympathy goes to all those affected by the loss of a loved one through alcohol.

“While we will need to better understand the reasons for this increase in deaths, I will do all I can to reduce alcohol-related harm.

“We will continue to work closely with alcohol and drug partnerships (ADPs) and the third sector to address this public health priority, backed by substantial investment.

“This year £113 million will be made available to ADPs to support local and national initiatives ensuring that local services can respond to local needs.

“We will address the unique challenges women face when accessing treatment, support and recovery, including stigma, while recognising that men still remain at the highest risk of death.

“We are also working to ensure that people continue to receive the same quality of care as those with problematic drug use.

“We are supporting a review and update to clinical guidelines for alcohol treatment which will introduce new approaches in a broad range of settings including hospitals.

“This will help ensure anyone with problematic alcohol use receives the right treatment at the right time.

“This is in addition to wider activity – including our world-leading minimum unit pricing (MUP) policy.

“Recent research estimated it has saved hundreds of lives, likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributable hospital admissions each year – and also contributed to reducing health inequalities.

“The research found the largest reductions in deaths and hospital admissions wholly attributable to alcohol consumption were seen in men and those living in the 40% most deprived areas.”

The NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area – the largest in the country – recorded the highest number of deaths with 326, followed by NHS Lanarkshire with 200 and NHS Lothian – which includes Edinburgh – with 153.

The majority of deaths logged alcoholic liver disease as an underlying cause of death, with 778.

Dr Alastair MacGilchrist, chairman of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, said he was “saddened” by the figures, adding: “The Scottish Government must do more to ensure that this level of harm does not continue.

“It is essential that our government addresses this public health emergency with the appropriate urgency and priority.

“It is vital that policies such as MUP remain in place to continue to reduce alcohol-related harms. The level at which MUP is set should be raised to at least 65p to maintain its benefit.

“Alongside this, the Scottish Government must address the wider availability and marketing of alcohol, in order to tackle the inescapable exposure to alcohol experienced by children and other vulnerable groups, such as people in recovery.”

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