Reducing harm caused by alcohol

Alcohol facts and figures

Contribution of alcohol to ill health in Scotland - from NHS Report: Burden of Disease Attributable to Alcohol Consumption

  • Alcohol was a factor in 3,705 deaths in Scotland in 2015.
  • One in four alcohol deaths (1,048) was from cancer, 544 deaths were from heart conditions and strokes, and 357 deaths were from unintentional injuries eg falls.
  • This means that 6.5% or around 1 in 15 of the deaths for the whole of Scotland in 2015 (57,327), were caused by alcohol.
  • At least 41,161 patients were admitted to hospital due to alcohol in 2015 including 11,068 due to unintentional injuries, 8,509 due to mental ill health and behavioural disorders and 4,291 due to liver disease and pancreatitis.

Note: These statistics report on the extent to which alcohol contributes to ill health and admissions to hospital in Scotland. The statistics below on alcohol deaths and hospital admissions use a narrower definition, reporting mostly on conditions that are only caused by alcohol. 

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 2019

  • 1 in 4 people (24%) 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 32% of men and 16% of women.
  • Men drink an average of 15.5 units of alcohol a week, and women drink an average of 8.8 units a week.
  • 17% of people say they are non-drinkers.

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

  • There were 1,136 alcohol-specific deaths in 2018 (where alcohol was the underlying cause of death) - an increase of 16 (1.4%) more than in the previous year
  • 762 of the alcohol-related deaths were men, 364 were women.
  • Over the years since 2000, there have been more than twice as many male deaths as female deaths.
  • 207 alcohol-specific deaths of people aged 55-59, 157 in the 60-64 age-group, 155 aged 65-69 and 146 of 50-54 year olds. There were also 121 deaths of 70-74 year olds - the largest number ever recorded, 112 deaths of people aged 45-49, 71 at ages 40-44, 57 who were 75-79, 46 aged 35-39. 

Alcohol-related hospital stays in Scotland - from Alcohol-related Hospital Statistics Scotland 2018/19

  • There were 38,370 alcohol-related hospital stays in 2017/18. That's more than 100 every day.
  • 23,751 Scottish residents had at least one admission to hospital with an alcohol-related condition.
  • 93% of the alcohol-related hospital admissions were to general acute hospitals.
  • Men were 2.5 times more likely than women to be admitted to general acute hospitals for alcohol-related conditions (971 per 100,000 population compared to 377)
  • Rates were highest in the 55-64 year old age group for men and the 45-54 age group for women.
  • Rates were 6 times higher for people living in the most deprived areas compared with the least deprived.

Alcohol and inequalities

  • Rates of alcohol-specific death are more than 7 times higher in Scotland’s most deprived areas compared to the least deprived (from the 2019 MESAS Monitoring Report).
  • Alcohol-related hospital stays are more than 8 times higher in Scotland’s poorest communities than the most affluent (from the 2019 MESAS Monitoring Report).
  • 24% of people in our most deprived areas are non-drinkers (compared to 12% in the least deprived (From The Scottish Health Survey 2018).
  • 18% of people living in our most deprived areas drink above the weekly low-risk guidelines of 14 units (compared to 27% in the most affluent areas) (From The Scottish Health Survey 2018)
  • Of those drinking above the weekly low-risk guidelines, people in the most deprived areas drink more units per week (From The Scottish Health Survey 2018). 

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 

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.

·        Rates of alcohol-specific death are more than seven times higher in Scotland’s most deprived areas compared to the least deprived.

·        Alcohol-related hospital stays more than eight times higher in Scotland’s poorest communities than the most affluent (from the 2019 MESAS Monitoring Report)

·        People living in our most deprived areas are the least likely to drink above the weekly low-risk guidelines of 14 units (27% compared to 18% in the most affluent areas) and most likely to be non-drinkers (24% compared to 12% in the least deprived)

·        However, of those drinking above the guidelines, people in the most deprived areas drink more units per week. (From The Scottish Health Survey 2018)