Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Scottish Health Survey 2021

The Scottish Health Survey 2021 was published today [9 November 2022]. The publication provides information on the health of people in Scotland, including information around alcohol consumption.

According to the Survey, the prevalence of hazardous or harmful levels of weekly alcohol consumption has declined steadily from 34% in 2003 to 25% in 2013, reaching the lowest level so far at 23% in 2021.

In response to the Scottish Health Survey, Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said “It is encouraging to see a small decrease in the overall number of people who report drinking at harmful and hazardous levels in Scotland, but still nearly a quarter of us are putting our health at risk from alcohol. For men aged 35 – 75 this rises to nearly a third.

“Concerningly we have seen a substantial rise in deaths from alcohol over the last two years so reducing how much we drink must remain a priority. The Scottish Government has rightly recognised alcohol harm as a public health emergency alongside drugs, but we have not yet seen an emergency response on the same scale; they must act now.

“Minimum unit pricing is one of the tools that can help reduce consumption; the Scottish Government must optimise the price to ensure alcohol does not become more affordable. Alongside this we need restrictions on the aggressive marketing of alcohol and to reduce how easily available it is in our communities, to address how normalised alcohol consumption is. This should be backed by further investment in support and treatment services to ensure anyone who needs help can the right support when they need it.”

The Health Survey also found that the prevalence of hazardous or harmful weekly alcohol consumption was highest among those aged between 45 and 74, and around twice as high for men as for women. Among all adults, hazardous or harmful levels of weekly alcohol consumption were more  common in the least deprived areas, while not drinking was more common in the most deprived areas.