- Survey shows post-pandemic increase in drinking for some
- Scottish Government commit to further plans to restrict alcohol marketing
- Challenge and Change: Rod Anderson
- Parliament must come together to renew and reinvigorate MUP
- A responsible drinking campaign that features cocktail recipes
- Unacceptable rise in alcohol-specific deaths
- Health experts share concerns about complaint made on MUP evaluation
- Decline in alcohol treatment in Scotland
- Challenge and Change: Lived Experience Voices on Alcohol Marketing
- Blog post for Alcohol Awareness Week 2023
- Final verdict on MUP
- Alcohol and diabetes
- Doctors say lack of response on alcohol deaths could spell disaster for Scotland
- MUP reduces deaths and hospital admissions
- Alcohol hospital admissions continue to be too high
- Lessons learned from countries with marketing restrictions
- What is the effect of alcohol marketing on people with or at risk of an alcohol problem?
- ONS figures show highest alcohol deaths on record
- MUP and alcohol sales
- Scottish Government launches alcohol marketing consultation
- MUP and alcohol products and prices
- Scottish Health Survey 2021
- New licensing policy review guide
- Slight increase in alcohol-specific deaths
- Health campaigners call on Scottish Government to regulate alcohol packaging
- Scottish charity calls for ban on all alcohol promotion
- New NCD Prevention Report - Mapping Future Harm
- Online Alcohol Sales & Deliveries: A survey of young people in Scotland
- Four years of MUP
- Prominent health warnings make drinking “unappealing”
- Insights from People in Recovery
- Meet our Engagement Team Marc
- Meet our Engagement Team Megan
- Report on alcohol sales and harm in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Sugar content in wine revealed
- Alcohol hospital admissions lower during pandemic
- Study reveals those already at risk from heavy drinking bought more alcohol during lockdowns
- Alcohol policy measures could reduce ambulance callouts
- 18.6% increase in deaths from alcohol in 2020
- Widespread support for calls to increase minimum unit price for alcohol to 65p
- Students as Change Agents
- Health charities call for action to save lives from Scotlands biggest killers
- Three quarters of Scots back new controls to help protect children from alcohol advertising
- Alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland increase
- More accurate estimates for the burden of Alcohol on the Ambulance Service: around 1 in 6 callouts in Scotland are alcohol related
- How can alcohol labels be improved to help people make informed consumption choices
- Health experts call for better alcohol labelling
- Young people and their views on alcohol marketing
- Lowest alcohol sales in Scotland for 26 years
- Minimum unit pricing has lasting impact study shows
- Euros renews call for action to protect children from alcohol sports sponsorship
- Current alcohol labelling of little relevance to young adult drinkers
- Governments should step up efforts to tackle harmful alcohol consumption
- Scottish public and leading health experts back changes to alcohol labelling
- AFS calls for 65p minimum unit price for alcohol
- How will the main parties prevent harm from alcohol?
- Alcohol labelling reform is way past its sell by date
- Alcohol policy priorities for the next parliament
- Young drinkers believe prominent health warnings on alcohol could boost risk awareness
- Alcohol and the Workplace Effective Interventions
- Alcohol sales and consumption in Scotland during the pandemic
- How can we prevent alcohol deaths?
- Alcohol Deaths and Minimum Unit Pricing
- YoungScot Health Panel report on alcohol marketing and harm
- Young Scots show support for restrictions on alcohol marketing
- New release of alcohol related hospital admissions
- Better alcohol labelling – A way to boost awareness of the risk between alcohol and cancer?
- NICE Guidelines on FASD Surveillance or Support?
- Alcohol Deaths Prevention Support
- Almost half of Scots in favour of minimum unit pricing
- Leading health charities call for action in Scotland
- Health experts campaign for better understanding of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
- Health experts call for alcohol labelling overhaul
- Australian ministers agree to visible pregnancy warning
- Alcohol Focus Scotland welcomes new WHO report on alcohol pricing
- Survey shows Scots lockdown drinking rise caused by stress
- Statistical analysis of off-trade alcohol sales in the year following MUP
- Alcohol Focus Scotland Review of statements of licensing policy 2018 to 2023
- We need to continue long-term focus on alcohol
- Scots report changing drinking patterns during coronavirus lockdown
- Time to Blow the Whistle on Alcohol Sport Sponsorship
- New evidence demonstrates that alcohol ads lead to youth drinking
- Alcohol sales fall in first year of MUP
- First study published into under 18 drinkers post MUP
- Commission on Alcohol Harm calls for evidence
- Two years on Are annual functions reports reaching their potential?
- We need to do more to protect our children and young people
- New Alcohol Deaths Prevention Support Now Available from AFS
- Scottish primary children call for action on alcohol
- Its time to tell us whats in our drinks
- A home for Rory
- Making a bad impression - blog post
- Alcohol marketing and children debate in the Scottish Parliament
- Alcohol sales and MUP
- Lowest alcohol sales in 25 years
- Research into fall in violence
- The Children's Parliament investigates an alcohol-free childhood
- Minimum unit pricing one year on
- More about sales data
- A family of resources it is all about prevention, education and resilience
- AFS publish Review of Licensing Board Annual Functions Reports 2017-2018
- Marketing unmasked dispelling the myths and taking a stand
- No place for alcohol marketing in sport
- Scotland publishes first UK guidelines for diagnosing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)
- The Alcohol Framework 2018 Preventing Harm
- Scotlands new drug and alcohol strategy launched
- AFS welcome new alcohol strategy
- Recent reporting on alcohol sales data
- Diageo is failing to provide latest guidelines on their products
- Drinks companies keeping consumers in dark about risky drinking
- Reducing alcohol consumption can address health inequalities
- Global first alcohol policy set to save hundreds of Scots' lives
- AFS welcomes minimum unit pricing for alcohol
- Truer picture of alcohol harm revealed
- Alcohol causes 3,700 deaths in Scotland every year
- Scotland's licensing system needs clearer direction
- Minimum pricing blog
- Minimum pricing gets green light
- Alcohol brands and young people
- Time for honest conversations about alcohol
- Q&A on alcohol marketing
- UK children anxious about parents' drinking
- Alcohol producers failing to inform public
- Concern over alcohol-related deaths
- We need to make it easier for people to drink less
- Worrying rise in alcohol-related deaths
- Minimum pricing will save lives
- Pocket money prices for alcohol continue
- Scotland's alcohol problem laid bare
- Cheap alcohol is costing Scotland dear
- One drink a day can increase breast cancer risk
- Poverty linked to increased harm from alcohol
- What next for reducing alcohol harm in Scotland?
- Scotland must do more to turn tide of alcohol harm
- Concern as funding for alcohol services cut
- Scottish Government urged to curb alcohol marketing
- Consumers have the right to know health risks
- Alcohol-free childhood is healthiest option
- SWA granted leave to appeal minimum pricing
- SWA will appeal to UK Supreme Court
- SWA urged to respect minimum pricing decision
- Minimum pricing can be implemented in Scotland
- Emergency services face shocking levels of alcohol abuse
- Every child has the right to grow up safe from alcohol harm
- Minimum pricing - European court ruling
Doctors say lack of response on alcohol deaths could spell disaster for Scotland
- Scottish Government not doing enough to address alcohol deaths
- 36 charities and medical bodies call for strong leadership to tackle highest level of deaths since 2008
- Investment in services and recovery support - alongside renewed efforts to tackle price, availability and marketing of alcohol - urgently needed to turn the tide of harm
A campaign group of medical professionals, public health practitioners and charities are calling for new First Minister, Humza Yousaf, to show strong leadership and priority setting to address the highest level of alcohol deaths in Scotland since 2008.
More than 30 organisations are calling for increased and sustained investment in alcohol services and recovery support, in combination with a renewed commitment to preventative policies like minimum price and alcohol marketing restrictions. They say this is essential to protecting and promoting people’s right to health.
They are calling on the Scottish Government to:
- Provide a range of recovery-oriented alcohol services, including: specialist services, counselling, residential and community-based rehabilitation provision and peer-led and mutual aid options
- Improve identification and testing of patients at risk of liver disease, in primary care
- Establish Alcohol Care Teams in hospitals to identify people with underlying alcohol problems earlier.
- Introduce an Alcohol Harm Prevention Levy on alcohol retailers to help fund local prevention, treatment, and care services.
- Increase the minimum unit price for alcohol to at least 65p per unit to save more lives.
- Deliver restrictions that will reduce children and young people’s exposure to alcohol marketing.
Despite the positive effect of minimum unit pricing, which was recently found to have saved 268 lives each year since it was introduced, Scotland has still seen a dramatic increase in alcohol deaths over the past few years. This significant rise in loss of life was likely caused by changing drinking habits during the pandemic, in particular among heavy drinkers, alongside reduced access to services.
Even if drinking patterns return to pre-pandemic levels it is likely these worrying trends will continue to be felt into the future.
While death is the most tragic outcome of alcohol harm, the adverse impact on society is much wider, affecting not only those suffering alcohol problems, but also family, friends and colleagues. The total societal costs of alcohol in Scotland have been estimated at between £5-10 billion a year, including a £1.2 billion cost to the economy.
Despite this, the group say there has been little political attention on the increase in deaths and a lack of a proportionate response from Scottish Government.
Medical professionals are worried that if we don’t act now, we could be turning back the clock 30 years to when Scotland saw deaths rates soar, reaching record levels.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said “Alcohol is Scotland’s drug of choice. It is addictive and carcinogenic. Yet because it is promoted as an everyday product, essential to having fun and relaxing, we are blinkered to the reality of the high levels of damage it causes. Before the pandemic almost 1 in 15 of all deaths in Scotland were caused by alcohol. Unless urgent action is taken now then we could be sleep-walking our way back to the record levels of deaths we saw in the early 2000s.
“It’s 16 months since the Scottish Government rightly recognised there is a ‘public health emergency’ on alcohol, but there has been no plan to address it. This is unacceptable. When bold action is taken it saves lives, as we have seen with minimum unit price. The First Minister and his new team must act urgently to improve access to treatment and support and deliver on prevention, including by uprating the minimum unit price and by introducing meaningful marketing restrictions that protect people from being bombarded by alcohol ads.”
Dr Alastair MacGilchrist, Chair of expert alcohol medical group, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, said: “Our new First Minister and new Minister for Drugs and Alcohol Policy must now step up to the plate. Instead of warm words recognising the public health emergency with alcohol harms in Scotland, we now need to see action. Clinicians see the impact of alcohol on patients day-in, day-out and rightly are calling the Scottish Government out on this and are demanding urgent action.”
Dr David McCartney, addictions consultant said “As a country our response to our shameful alcohol deaths feels more like a whimper than a bang. In terms of urgency and resources, we really need to see a similar reaction to that around our country’s drug deaths. At the moment, things are getting worse. We’re seeing people presenting at services in in poorer physical and mental health and with more complex needs. We need to see action to improve treatment access and to reduce harms; this will improve people’s lives and reduce pressure on our NHS.”
Dr Catriona Morton, GP and representative of the Royal College of GPs said “Alcohol related harms are at crisis level in Scotland. Each week 700 people are hospitalised and 24 die as a result of alcohol, and the numbers of people whose lives are dominated by alcohol-related suffering is even greater. The everyday experience of many GPs is that patients are often unaware of the breadth or severity of the impact alcohol has upon their health. The normalisation of drinking, including widespread advertising, presents a significant barrier to reducing consumption on either an individual or societal basis. Much of the impact is borne by the most socio-economically deprived individuals and communities, contributing significantly to Scotland’s extremely poor record on health inequalities. Action is desperately needed to address the cause and effects of adverse alcohol consumption in Scotland.”
Professor Ewan Forrest, Consultant Hepatologist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary said: “Whilst the benefits of public health measures such as minimum unit price for alcohol are welcomed, there are still large numbers of people in hospital with alcohol-related illness. Liver disease in particular is often only recognised when the damage is very severe. As a result the outcomes are very poor and alcohol-related liver disease accounts for the majority of alcohol specific deaths. We need to identify people at risk early and then ensure that they have access to effective alcohol treatment services. This requires resources and commitment. Such action will not only help individuals but will also benefit the NHS.”
Dr Seonaid Anderson, Consultant Addictions Psychiatrist said: “In specialist addictions services, the number of referrals for people seeking support for an alcohol problem far outweighs the number of people with drug issues. However, it seems that the political focus remains on reducing drug-related deaths without the same attention being given to people with alcohol problems. In the last few years, people with alcohol problems have tended to present later and their needs are increasingly complex as a result. There has been a significant reduction in the support available for these people and it is essential that investment in specialist services is prioritised to meet this unmet need for individuals and their loved ones. At a population level, the success of such measures as MUP should be built upon so that people no longer reach the point of requiring specialist services.”
Supported by: Alcohol Focus Scotland, Scottish Alcohol Counselling Consortium, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), Scottish Recovery Consortium, Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership, Alcohol Health Alliance, Argyll and Bute Alcohol and Drug Partnership, ASH Scotland, BMA Scotland, Borders Alcohol and Drug Partnership, British Heart Foundation Scotland, British Liver Trust, Children in Scotland, Directors of Public Health Scotland, East Ayrshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership, East Renfrewshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership, Edinburgh Alcohol and Drug Partnership, Falkirk Alcohol and Drug Partnership, Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Partnership, Highland Alcohol and Drug Partnership, Inverclyde Alcohol and Drug Partnership, NCD Alliance Scotland, North Lanarkshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership, Queen's Nursing Institute for Scotland, Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Scottish Cancer Foundation, Shetland Alcohol and Drug Partnership, South Lanarkshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership, SPECTRUM, Stroke Association, We are with you.
 Angus, C., Henney, M., & Pryce, R. (2022). Modelling the impact of changes in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic on future alcohol-related harm in England. The University of Sheffield.
 Bhattacharya, A (2023). Getting in the spirit: Alcohol and the Scottish Economy. Social Market Foundation.