Reducing harm caused by alcohol

Alcohol facts and figures

Attitudes to alcohol in Scotland - from Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2013

  • 84% of Scots thought alcohol causes either a 'great deal' or 'quite a lot of harm in Scotland'.
  • Most people disapprove of excessive drinking - only 19% thought that 'getting drunk is a perfectly acceptable thing to do on weekends'.
  • Over four in ten (44%) non-drinkers perceived that others think they are odd for not drinking.
  • Around half of Scots did not know the number of units in a pint of beer, measure of spirits or a glass of wine.

Alcohol consumption in Scotland - from Scottish Health Survey 2015

  • 1 in 4 people (26%) drink at hazardous or harmful levels (defined as drinking more than 14 units per week).
  • Drinking more than 14 units a week was reported by 36% of men and 17% of women.
  • Men drink an average of 17.2 units of alcohol a week, and women drink an average of 8.7 units a week.
  • 16% of people say they are non-drinkers.

Alcohol-related deaths in Scotland - from National Records of Scotland

  • There were 1,150 alcohol-related deaths in 2015 (where alcohol was the underlying cause of death).
  • 764 of those deaths were men, 386 were women.
  • Over the years since 1979, there have been roughly twice as many male deaths as female deaths.
  • 491 deaths were people aged 45-59, 412 deaths in the 60-74 age group, 130 deaths in the 30-44 age group, and smaller numbers for other age groups.
  • The 45-59 age group has had the largest number of alcohol-related deaths in almost every year since 1979.
  • Although alcohol-related deaths have declined in recent years, rates remain higher than they were in the early 1980s and higher than those in England and Wales. (from MESAS 4th annual report)

Alcohol-related hospital stays in Scotland - from Alcohol-related Hospital Statistics Scotland 2015/16

  • There were almost 35,000 alcohol-related hospital stays in 2015/16.
  • Around 90% of the alcohol-related hospital admissions are to general acute hospitals and around 10% to psychiatric hospitals.
  • 92% of alcohol-related hospital stays resulted from emergency admissions.
  • 71% of alcohol-related hospital stays were men.
  • Rates were highest in the 55-64 age group for men and the 45-54 age group for women.
  • Rates were nearly 8 times higher for people living in the most deprived areas compared with the least deprived.
  • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had double the rate of alcohol-related hospital stays compared with NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

Alcohol-related GP consultations in Scotland - from ScotPHO

  • There were an estimated 94,630 alcohol-related primary care consultations by 48,420 patients in 2012/13.
  • Consultation rates were highest for those aged 65 and over.

Alcohol-related trauma in Scotland - from STAG Trauma Annual Report 2015

  • Alcohol is associated with 33% of major trauma patients and 25% of all trauma patients.
  • Involvement of alcohol is nearly twice as common in male trauma patients.

Alcohol-related crime in Scotland - from Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014/15

  • In just over half (54%) of violent crime, the victim said the offender was under the influence of alcohol.
  • In the past 10 years, half of those accused of murder were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the murder.
  • Two thirds of young offenders were drunk at the time of their offence. (from Scottish Prisoner Survey 2013)

Cost of alcohol harm - from The Societal Cost of Alcohol Misuse in Scotland for 2007

  • Alcohol harm costs Scotland £3.6 billion a year in health, social care, crime, productive capacity and wider costs.
  • Alcohol costs the health service in Scotland £267 million a year.
  • The cost of alcohol-related crime is £727 million a year.
  • Alcohol costs every local authority area in Scotland millions of pounds a year - see our local alcohol cost profiles in the Resources section.


ScotPHO provides comprehensive statistics, research and publications on alcohol including local alcohol profiles for Health Board and Alcohol & Drug Partnership areas.