It is becoming increasingly evident that as a nation our relationship with alcohol has become unbalanced.
Alcohol sales data suggests that consumption has increased by 6% per adult over the last 20 years (1994-2014) with enough alcohol being sold for every adult in Scotland to drink over 20 units each and every week since at least 2000. This is six units (43%) more than the new lower risk guidelines of 14 units a week for men and women.
Since 2009, we have seen a 8% decrease in alcohol consumption per adult but the levels are still high.
Almost a fifth more alcohol is sold per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales.
The impact of this excessive consumption is estimated to cost Scots £3.6 billion each year, that's equivalent to £900 for each and every adult in Scotland.
The rate of hospital stays have quadrupled since the early 1980's; although there has been a 20% reduction since 2007-2008. The rate of alcohol-related deaths is 1.5 times higher than in 1980 although there has been a 33% reduction since 2003.
The impact on crime and anti-social behaviour is equally stark, with statistics showing that over 40 per cent of prisoners (including 60 per cent of young offenders) were drunk at the time of their offence.
Alcohol Framework for Action
The Alcohol Framework for Action, published March 2009, set out a strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse in Scotland:
The Framework contains a wide package of measures contained within four areas:
reduced alcohol consumption
supporting families and communities
positive attitudes, positive choices
improved treatment and support
Considerable progress has been made in implementing key aspects of the Framework including:
record investment in tackling alcohol misuse of over £319 million since 2008
delivery of over 569,000 alcohol brief interventions by NHS Scotland
establishment of 30 Alcohol and Drug Partnerships
introduction of the quantity discount ban
improved substance misuse education
passing of minimum unit pricing legislation
introduction of lower drink-drive limit
NHS Health Scotland was tasked with monitoring and evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) and various reports have been published which can be found at
Their final report was published in March 2016.
A refresh of the Alcohol Framework will be introduced later in 2016.