Alcohol Consumption in Scotland

Information on Scottish adult drinking behaviour can be found in the Scottish Health Survey.

In 2019, 9.9 litres of pure alcohol were sold per adult in Scotland, equivalent to 19.1 units per adult per week. This represents enough alcohol for every adult to substantially (by 36%) exceed the low risk weekly drinking guideline (of 14 units for men and women).

The 9.9 litres of pure alcohol per adult represents a 3% decrease from 2017 (10.2 litres) and is the lowest level seen in Scotland since 1994.

Summary of findings:

  • In 2019, prevalence of hazardous, harmful or possibly dependent drinking behaviour (AUDIT scores of 8 or more) was higher for men than for women.
  • In 2019, the highest proportion of adult nondrinkers was in the most deprived areas and the lowest was in the least deprived areas.
  • Since 2003, the mean number of units consumed per week among both men and women has decreased, with the 2019 mean the lowest in the time series for men.
  • The mean number of units of alcohol consumed per week by adults has decreased over the time series to its lowest so far in 2019 (although not significantly different from 2018).
  • The highest prevalence of hazardous or harmful drinking for men was among those aged 55–64 and for women among those aged 45–54.
  • Following a significant decrease in prevalence of hazardous or harmful drinking between 2003 and 2013, prevalence for all adults has remained relatively stable.
    • 17% All adults
    • 23% Men
    • 11% Women
  • Among all children in 2017/2019 combined:
    • 17% were living with at least one parent who exhibited hazardous, harmful drinking behaviour or had a possible alcohol dependence (AUDIT score of 8 or more)
    • 2% of these were living with at least one parent who exhibited harmful drinking behaviour or who had a possible alcohol dependence (AUDIT score of 16 or more)
    • 83% did not live in a household with a parent who exhibited hazardous, harmful drinking behaviour or who had a possible alcohol dependence

Read the Scottish Health Survey 2019: summary report

Read the Scottish Health Survey 2019 - volume 1: main report

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