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 2017

  • 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 33% of men and 16% of women.
  • Men drink an average of 16.4 units of alcohol a week, and women drink an average of 8.6 units a week.
  • 17% of people say they are non-drinkers.
  • 11% 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 

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.