Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Unacceptable rise in alcohol-specific deaths

1,276 people died in 2022 from causes solely attributable to alcohol according to figures published today, Tuesday 29 August 2023, by National Records of Scotland.

Alcohol Focus Scotland says this is "completely unacceptable" and that the Scottish Government must take action to combat the 40% reduction in access to specialist alcohol services.

Laura Mahon, deputy chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said, "For the third year in a row we've seen deaths caused by alcohol increasing. This is completely unacceptable, with each of these deaths being preventable. We need to be going further and faster in our efforts to reverse this appalling trend."

The figures represent an increase of 2% (31 deaths) on 2021, and an increase of 25% (256 deaths) on 2019. This means that 3 people a day or 24 people a week lose their lives because of alcohol in Scotland.

Laura added that "The impact of minimum unit pricing has been positive, and the number of alcohol-related deaths would be much higher without it. Increasing minimum unit pricing in line with inflation, at least to 65p would help save many more lives. We need to go further than one policy on its own though. The Scottish Government must deliver on the commitments made in the 2018 alcohol strategy. This includes a strong focus on preventing people from developing alcohol problems in the first place alongside urgent action to combat the 40% reduction in access to specialist alcohol services over the last decade."

Daniel Burns, Head of Vital Events Statistics at National Records of Scotland, said:

"Looking at the long term trend the number of deaths from alcohol-specific causes fell between 2006 and 2012 but has risen since and is now about the same as 2010 levels.

"In 2022, the average age at death for females from an alcohol-specific cause was 58.7 years and for males it was 60.0 years."

Male deaths continue to account for around two thirds of alcohol-specific deaths. However, female deaths increased by 31 to 440 deaths in 2022 while male deaths remained the same.

There are 4.3 times as many deaths from these causes in the most deprived communities as in the least deprived communities but this equality gap has been narrowing. This compares to a ratio of 1.8 times for all causes of death.

Scotland continued to have the highest alcohol-specific death rate of the UK constituent countries in 2021, the latest year for which comparable data exists. Data for the rest of the UK is yet to be released for 2022.