Slight rise in alcohol-specific deaths

Official statistics show 2% increase.

More work is required on reducing alcohol-related harm, Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister Elena Whitham has said.

Ms Whitham reaffirmed the Scottish Government’s focus on measures to tackle alcohol abuse, as the latest statistics show a small rise in deaths caused by alcohol.

The figures, published by National Records of Scotland, found that there were 1,276 alcohol-specific deaths registered in Scotland in 2022 – an increase of 2% (31) on 2021. Female deaths rose by 31 to 440, with male deaths unchanged at 836.

Visiting a Managed Alcohol Programme (MAP) pilot in Glasgow, which provides people experiencing homelessness and long-standing alcohol dependency with a regular dose of alcohol in an accommodation-based project, Ms Whitham said:

“Every life lost is a tragedy and my sympathy goes to all those affected by the loss of a loved one through alcohol.  

“While we will need to better understand the reasons for this increase in deaths, I will do all I can to reduce alcohol-related harm. We will continue to work closely with Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) and the third sector to address this public health priority, backed by substantial investment. This year £113 million will be made available to ADPs to support local and national initiatives ensuring that local services can respond to local needs.

“We will address the unique challenges women face when accessing treatment, support and recovery, including stigma, while recognising that men still remain at the highest risk of death. We are also working to ensure that people continue to receive the same quality of care as those with problematic drug use. We are supporting a review and update to clinical guidelines for alcohol treatment which will introduce new approaches in a broad range of settings including hospitals. This will help ensure anyone with problematic alcohol use receives the right treatment at the right time.  

“This is in addition to wider activity – including our world-leading Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) policy. Recent research estimated it has saved hundreds of lives, likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributable hospital admissions each year - and also contributed to reducing health inequalities. The research found the largest reductions in deaths and hospital admissions wholly attributable to alcohol consumption were seen in men and those living in the 40% most deprived areas.”

Simon Community Scotland deliver the Managed Alcohol Programme, supported by more than £210,000 Scottish Government funding over three years.

CEO Lorraine McGrath said:

“We took a big, brave and bold step in opening the first Managed Alcohol Programme in Scotland. We’ve learned a lot since we opened our doors - we learn from every man and his unique circumstances. We are gathering substantial evidence that this enhanced approach to harm reduction really works. It provides a safe home and support to men who, in some cases, haven’t had that in decades.

“Our ambition is not just for the men who we are privileged to get to know as they make their home here, but for every other person in Scotland who has an enduring dependence on alcohol. We hope that a MAP approach can become part of the fabric of services and opportunities made available, including for people in their own homes.”


Small increase in alcohol-specific death statistics | National Records of Scotland (


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