Scottish Health Survey 2017: summary report

Key findings from the Scottish Health Survey 2017 report.

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Chapter 4: Alcohol


24% of adults drank at harmful or hazardous levels, down from 34% in 2003

  • The proportion of adults saying they did not drink alcohol increased from 11% in 2003 to 17% in 2017, the highest level in the time series.
  • Levels of hazardous / harmful drinking in 2017 were higher for men (33%) than for women (16%). The overall average weekly alcohol consumption for male drinkers (16.4 units) remained at around twice that for female drinkers (8.6 units).

The average number of units of alcohol consumed per week by drinkers has decreased since 2003, and has remained at around the current level since 2013


The highest prevalence of drinking over 14 units a week was among those in the least deprived areas, they were also least likely to be non-drinkers


  • In 2017, male drinkers drank an average of 8.0 units on their heaviest drinking day and the average was 5.3 units for women; a significant fall for women from 2016 (6.1 units).
  • The percentage of men drinking more than four units on their heaviest drinking day declined from 2003 to 2017 (45% to 37%). Similarly, the percentage of women drinking more than three units on their heaviest drinking day declined (37% in 2003 to 29% in 2017).
  • The percentage of men drinking more than eight units and women drinking more than six units on their heaviest drinking day also declined (24% in 2003 compared with 17% in 2017), with a significant fall since 2016 (from 20% to 17%).

The proportion of adults who drank on more than 5 days in the last week has remained around the same level since 2009 following a decrease from 2003


  • In 2017, male drinkers consumed alcohol on more days per week than female drinkers on average (2.8 days compared with 2.4 days respectively).
  • 13% of male drinkers and 9% of female drinkers drank alcohol on more than five days in the past week.
  • Levels of hazardous, harmful or possibly dependent drinking behaviour as defined by AUDIT scores had fluctuated between 22% and 26% among men and between 10% and 13% among women since 2012.


Julie Landsberg

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