Alcohol Harms in Scotland

Alcohol-specific deaths


  • Analysis of alcohol-specific deaths in 2020 shows there were 1,190 alcohol-specific deaths registered in Scotland, 170 greater than in 2019 representing a 17% increase. 2020 represents the highest number of alcohol-specific deaths registered since 2008 (1,316).
  • The age-standardised alcohol-specific death rate was 21.5 deaths per 100,000 population in Scotland.
  • The rates of male alcohol-specific deaths (31.3 deaths per 100,000) were more than double the rates for females (12.7 deaths per 100,000). Males accounted for over two-thirds (69%) of alcohol-specific deaths.
  • Most alcohol-specific deaths were of people in their 50s and 60s (711, 60% of the total in 2020).
  • After adjusting for age, alcohol-specific death rates in the most deprived areas were 4.3 times more than those in the least deprived areas.



Source: Alcohol-specific deaths 2020, National Records of Scotland. 


Alcohol-related hospital admissions


  • In 2020/21 there were 33,015 alcohol-related hospital stays in general acute hospitals. This is equivalent to an age-sex standardised rate of 614 inpatient stays per 100,000 population.
  • In 2020/21, rates of alcohol-related hospital stays in Scotland were 2.3 times higher among men (851 per 100,000 population) than women (376 per 100,000 population).
  • Rates also differ by age: in 2020/21, the 55–64 year age group had the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital stays at 993 per 100,000 population.
  • In 2020/21, rates of alcohol-related stays were eight times higher in the 10% most deprived areas in Scotland than in the 10% least deprived areas.
  • In total 21,480 people were admitted to a general acute hospital with an alcohol-related diagnosis in 2020/21, meaning that some people had more than one admission in the year.


Source: The Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland's Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) monitoring report 2022.


Alcohol Harm Profiles

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