Reducing harm caused by alcohol

Scottish policy

Scotland can legislate, formulate and lead public policy on alcohol in aspects of health, licensing, treatment and criminal justice. The UK government retains control over taxation and broadcast advertising.

Alcohol policy timeline


The aim of the Scottish Government's alcohol strategy is to reduce overall alcohol consumption and harm.

Changing Scotland's Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action contains around 40 measures to reduce alcohol-related harm. The framework identifies the need for sustained action in four areas:

  • reduced alcohol consumption
  • supporting families and communities
  • positive public attitudes, positive choices
  • improved treatment and support

The progress of Scotland's alcohol strategy has been monitored and evaluated by NHS Health Scotland through the MESAS (Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland's Alcohol Strategy) work programme.

The next phase of Scotland's alcohol strategy will be published at the end of 2016.

Local Alcohol and Drug Partnerships 

Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) have a key role in delivering Scotland's national alcohol strategy. There are 30 ADPs in Scotland which bring together local partners including health boards, local authorities, police and voluntary agencies. 

ADP's are responsible for developing local strategies for tackling alcohol and drugs based on assessment of local needs, circumstances and resources. Each ADP contributes to the delivery of their local Community Planning Partnership's Single Outcome Agreement.

Alcohol Brief Interventions

Scotland has a national programme of Alcohol Brief Interventions. ABIs are targeted at anyone who is drinking above the recommended guidelines, but not at a dependent level. They have been shown to be effective in reducing consumption among harmful and hazardous drinkers. 

The priority settings for delivering ABIs are primary care, A&E, and antenatal care.