Alcohol Emergency continues as latest ONS Deaths Data Published

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has today (Monday 22nd April) published their latest figures for alcohol specific deaths in the UK.

Overall, in 2022, there were 10,048 deaths from alcohol specific causes in the UK, a rate of 16.6 per 100,000 people. This represents another record high of deaths in the UK.

In Scotland alone, there were 1,276 alcohol-specific deaths compared to 1,245 in 2021. Furthermore, when comparing the figures to those released in 2019 there has been a staggering increase of 25%.

Scotland continues to have the highest rate of alcohol deaths in the UK (22.6 per 100,000 people), however these figures show that the gap is narrowing as the increase in deaths since the pandemic has been steeper in England than Scotland; likely due to the protective effect of minimum unit pricing in Scotland.

The rate in alcohol deaths in England has risen by 34.3% since 2019, compared to 22.2% in Scotland. Minimum unit pricing was introduced in Scotland in 2018.

Responding to the figures, Alison Douglas, CEO of Alcohol Focus Scotland said:

“These new figures confirm that despite the lifesaving impact of minimum unit pricing (MUP), Scotland remains in the grip of an alcohol emergency.

“Changes to drinking patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic have sadly become embedded and represent a ticking time bomb of alcohol related illness and deaths for our already over-stretched NHS.

“Every life lost due to alcohol is a preventable tragedy for individuals, families, friends and communities. It is particularly concerning to note the increase in death rates for women.

“Despite the Scottish Government’s acknowledgement that this is a public health emergency, we are still not seeing an adequate emergency response. Alcohol deaths continue to rise, yet people accessing alcohol treatment in Scotland has declined by 40% over the last ten years. This has to change.

“We must improve treatment and recovery support. But we also have to prevent the health and social harms caused by alcohol in the first place. We know what works: making alcohol less affordable, restricting how it is marketed, and reducing how widely available it is. We also know that Big Alcohol is the number one roadblock to implementing these cost-effective measures, because they rely on heavy drinking for much of their profits.

“It’s time we got on and implemented these essential public health policies and put people’s right to good health above the interests of big business.”

Read the latest figures

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The figures

Average units of alcohol a week drunk by men in Scotland