We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

Changing Scotland's relationship with alcohol: a discussion paper on our strategic approach



10. We know that many Scots enjoy alcohol sensibly, but many do not. Scotland has seen increasing levels of consumption to excessive levels over the last 50 years. As overall consumption has increased so has the harm caused by alcohol misuse. Those harms are neither limited to health nor experienced solely by the drinker and can damage family and friends, communities, employers, and Scotland as a whole. This section summarises the impact of alcohol misuse on delivering our Government's Purpose, through its impact on our Strategic Objectives of achieving a Wealthier and Fairer, Safer and Stronger, Healthier and Smarter Scotland. By tackling alcohol misuse and by supporting and encouraging people to make more positive choices about alcohol we can help them to maximise their potential both individually and collectively. A fuller analysis of the evidence is set out in Annex B.

WEALTHIER & FAIRER - Enable businesses and people to increase their wealth and more people to share fairly in that wealth.

11. Developing a more mature and balanced relationship with alcohol will reduce the burden of alcohol misuse on business, public services and our most deprived communities, and thus contribute to a Wealthier and Fairer Scotland.

  • the total cost of alcohol misuse to Scotland is estimated to be around £2.25 billion in 2006-7 - over £500 per year for every adult living in Scotland. 1
  • this includes an estimated cost of £400 million to Scottish industry in lost productivity and absence. 1
  • the cost to NHS Scotland is also estimated at around £400 million. 1
  • police response to alcohol misuse is estimated at £288 million. 1
  • those living in the 20% most deprived communities are around six times more likely to be admitted to hospital (and to die) due to alcohol misuse than those from the most affluent areas. 2

SAFER & STRONGER - Help local communities to flourish, becoming stronger, safer places to live, offering improved opportunities and a better quality of life.

12. A sensible approach to alcohol will help to underpin the development of more resilient, cohesive and successful communities - by tackling alcohol misuse we will be able to impact positively on crime and anti-social behaviour, making Scotland Safer and Stronger.

  • 45% of Scottish prisoners in 2007 said they were drunk at the time of the offence. 3
  • an audit of Scottish Emergency Departments ( EDs) suggested that at least 70% of assaults presenting to EDs may be alcohol-related. 4
  • 45% of victims' reports from 2006 show that, where they were able to say anything about the person or people who committed the crime, they considered the perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol. 5
  • two-thirds of those accused of homicide (and whose drug status was known) in 2006/7 were either drunk or on drink and drugs at the time of the alleged offence. 6
  • there were 990 casualties (including 30 fatalities) on Scottish roads in 2005 as a result of accidents involving illegal alcohol levels. 7
  • 62% of domestic abuse cases involved alcohol in 2003. 8

HEALTHIER - Help people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.

13. Adopting a balanced approach to alcohol will contribute to increased positive physical and mental wellbeing amongst Scots, making Scotland Healthier.

  • alcohol related death rates in Scotland have more than doubled in the last fifteen years. 9
  • in the last decade, alcohol related attendances at Scottish hospitals have increased by almost 50%. 10
  • over the last 20 years Scotland has had one of the fastest growing chronic liver disease and cirrhosis rates in the world. 11
  • around 50% of people committing suicide in the last ten years have had a history of alcohol misuse. 12
  • alcohol consumption is considered by the World Health Organisation ( WHO) to be the third highest risk factor for ill health in developed countries, behind only tobacco and high blood pressure. 13

SMARTER - Expand opportunities for people in Scotland to succeed from nurture through to life long learning, ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements.

14. Preventing young people misusing alcohol and enabling them to make positive choices plus addressing the effects of alcohol misuse within families will make Scotland Smarter.

  • 40% of 15 year olds and 15% of 13 year olds drank alcohol in the previous week. 14
  • 1 in 6 of those 15 year olds who have drunk alcohol reported trying drugs and 1 in 7 reported having unprotected sex as a consequence of alcohol consumption. 15
  • 65,000 Scottish children are estimated to live with a parent whose drinking is problematic. 16
  • a quarter of children on the Child Protection Register are estimated to be there due to parental alcohol or drug misuse. 17
  • one in three divorces cite excessive drinking by a partner as a contributory factor. 18