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 2016

  • 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 35% of men and 17% of women.
  • Men drink an average of 16.9 units of alcohol a week, and women drink an average of 8.8 units a week.
  • 16% of people say they are non-drinkers.
  • 13% of people drank on more than 5 days in the last week.

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

  • There were 1,265 alcohol-related deaths in 2016 (where alcohol was the underlying cause of death) - an increase of 115 (10%) compared with 2015.
  • 867 of the alcohol-related deaths were men, 398 were women.
  • Over the years since 1979, there have been roughly twice as many male deaths as female deaths.
  • 503 deaths were people aged 45-59, 468 deaths in the 60-74 age group, 147 deaths in the 75+ age group, 136 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.

Alcohol-related hospital stays in Scotland - from Alcohol-related Hospital Statistics Scotland 2016/17

  • There were 36,235 alcohol-related hospital stays in 2016/17.
  • 24,060 people in Scotland had at least one admission to hospital with an alcohol-related condition.
  • 92% of the alcohol-related hospital admissions were to general acute hospitals and 8% to psychiatric hospitals.
  • 93% of alcohol-related hospital stays resulted from emergency admissions.
  • 71% of alcohol-related hospital stays were men.
  • Rates were highest in the 55-64 year old 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.