Alcohol harm profiles

Problematic alcohol use has been estimated to cost the Scottish economy £3.56 billion each year. The following profiles detail alcohol-related measurable health trends in NHSScotland Health Boards. Alcohol harm can affect not only individual health but also family life and public safety.

Alcohol harm in Scotland

Scotland is an international leader in advancing evidence-based alcohol policies that protect people’s health. There is encouraging early evidence that minimum unit pricing (MUP) is effective at reducing alcohol harm and at reducing health inequalities. However, despite the commitments and achievements of the 2009 and 2018 Alcohol Frameworks, levels of alcohol harm in Scotland remain high.

In 2019, 1,020 people in Scotland died from a cause wholly attributable to alcohol – a number that does not include deaths where alcohol has contributed, such as suicide, road accidents and a wide range of diseases, including cancer. 3,705 deaths were attributable to alcohol in 2015 alone, with over one-quarter of those (28%) due to cancer. All deaths from alcohol are preventable.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the long-standing trend towards home drinking, which involves additional potential risks. Research indicates that heavier drinkers have increased their consumption.

Reducing alcohol-related harm in Scotland requires maintaining a focus on alcohol as a priority, as well as understanding the significance of alcohol to other areas of health and social policy.

Alcohol harm profiles for NHSScotland Boards

When you click on a Health Board it will expand to reveal key points about harms in that area.

A link to the Health Board's Harm Profile can be found beneath the bullet points.

NHS Ayrshire & Arran
  • 1.7% of people referred are waiting over three weeks between referral to a specialist alcohol service and start of treatment, which meets the Government target. As with the rest of Scotland, there is a lack of information on progress in treatment.
  • Alcohol-related hospital admissions are significantly higher than the Scottish average.
  • The total number of alcohol brief interventions (ABIs) delivered exceeds the Government target. The proportion delivered in primary care (General Practice settings), where the evidence-base is greatest, has room for improvement.
  • Numbers starting treatment have fallen in recent years across Scotland and within NHS Ayrshire & Arran, despite levels of alcohol harm remaining high.

View the harm profile

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