Despite the ongoing alcohol emergency, levels of access to alcohol treatment are at the lowest level for 10 years, with a 40% decline in the number of people commencing specialist alcohol treatment across Scotland.

Scotland must urgently respond to the alcohol emergency by renewing its efforts to implement evidence-based alcohol policies as well improving treatment and recovery support. While the overarching principles of our two existing alcohol strategies (the Alcohol Framework and Rights, Respect and Recovery, both published in 2018) remain relevant, action at national and local level is not proportionate to the scale of the problems we now face.


Alcohol death reviews

In September 2020, AFS published practical guidance for ADPs and public health teams on conducting alcohol deaths reviews. The guidance distilled insight and learning from colleagues across Scotland with experience of alcohol death reviews, providing practical advice to inform and support alcohol death prevention and reduce inequalities. Reviews or audits of alcohol-specific deaths offer insight and learning which can inform improvements in treatment and care. This intelligence is particularly valuable given the impact of the pandemic on drinking behaviours, the significant increase in alcohol-specific deaths since 2020 and the ten-year decline in people accessing specialist alcohol treatment, all of which is driving the alcohol emergency.

AFS continues to support local ADPs and public health teams to conduct alcohol death reviews and keeps the guidance under review to capture learning from each new review completed.

You can read more about our work on treatment and care in our Strategy for 2024-27.

View our press release on the 40% decline in people accessing alcohol treatment.

Workforce training

Alcohol Focus Scotland provides a range of training courses suitable for those working in alcohol treatment and care, including:

  • Alcohol Awareness
  • Enhanced Alcohol Awareness
  • Alcohol and Older Adults

You can find out more about our training courses here.

The figures

1 in 15
deaths in Scotland is caused by alcohol