NHS Health Scotland has published the latest data on Scotland’s relationship with alcohol. 

The report, ‘Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy: Monitoring Report 2018’ found that 10.2 litres of pure alcohol were sold per adult in Scotland, equivalent to 19.6 units per adult per week. This means that enough alcohol was sold last year in Scotland for every adult to exceed the weekly guideline by 40%, every week of the year.

After a period of decline, rates of death entirely caused by alcohol have increased over the past four years, and it is now directly responsible for an average of 22 deaths and 697 admissions to hospital per week. 

People in the most deprived areas are experiencing the most harm. Rates of both alcohol-specific death and alcohol-related admissions are more than eight times higher than in the least deprived areas.

More than 24,000 people were admitted to hospital for a drink-related condition in 2016-17, with a total of more than 36,000 in-patient stays recorded over the course of the year.

The scale of the problem means alcohol-related hospital admissions are 4.4 times higher than they were in the 1980s.

Almost half (47%) of alcohol sold in shops and supermarkets last year cost less than 50p per unit – the new minimum unit price for drink which was brought in by the Scottish government in May.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: "Our world-leading minimum unit pricing policy now ensures no alcohol can be sold below 50p per unit. I am confident minimum unit pricing will make a significant difference to the harms shown in this report.

"Those that drink most heavily and live in deprived areas experience the greatest levels of harm, and they will benefit most from minimum unit pricing."

Lucie Giles, lead author of the report and Public Health Intelligence Adviser at NHS Health Scotland said: 

“As a leading cause of illness and early death, alcohol consumption and related harm remains a significant public health concern.     

“With rates of alcohol-specific deaths increasing in recent years, and alcohol related hospital admissions 4 times higher than they were in the 1980s, it is more important than ever that we continue to monitor alcohol price, consumption and alcohol-related harms to inform and evaluate policy.

“Preventative action is necessary to reduce alcohol consumption if long-term improvements in alcohol-related harm are to be realised. And with the most harm being felt in our poorest areas, we must take action to reduce the health inequalities related to alcohol.”