Alcohol-specific death rates declined between 2018 and 2019 for both men and women; the 2019 rate for men was the lowest since 1996. Alcohol-specific death rates are consistently higher in Scotland than in England & Wales.
23,685 people in Scotland were admitted to a general acute hospital with an alcohol-related diagnosis in 2019/20, with a total of 35,781 alcohol-related inpatient stays. Rates of alcohol-related hospital stays were four times higher than in the early 1980s. The most recent data show that rates of alcohol-specific death and alcohol-related hospital stays were at least twice as high for men as women and were highest in the 55–64 year age group. Inequalities by area deprivation were stark: in the 10% most deprived areas of Scotland, rates of alcohol-specific death and alcohol-related hospital stays were eight times higher than in the 10% least deprived areas.
Rates of ‘driving under the influence of alcohol’ offences remained at around the lowest level in the available time series, and ‘drunkenness and other disorderly conduct’ offences fell to their lowest level.
Dr Elizabeth Richardson, Public Health Intelligence Adviser at Public Health Scotland, said:
“The MESAS report shows population-level alcohol consumption in Scotland has fallen for the third consecutive year, with the reduction from 9.9 litres per adult in 2019 to 9.4 litres per adult in 2020 representing the largest year-on-year decrease in Scotland in the time series available.
“In 2020 COVID-19 restrictions included the closure of licenced alcohol premises, such as pubs, clubs and restaurants. We have previously shown that per-adult sales were lower overall between March and July last year, during the first national lockdown, and it’s likely that the pandemic and associated restrictions have contributed to the lower alcohol consumption we see across the Scottish population in 2020.
Public Health Scotland will continue to monitor and evaluate Scotland’s alcohol strategy, to gauge progress and understand what works to reduce the harm alcohol causes.