In response to alcohol-specific deaths released by the National Records of Scotland

Date Published

18th August 2021




Drinkaware CEO Elaine Hindal said:

“Tuesday’s figures (17th August) on alcohol-specific related deaths in 2020 for Scotland, indicate a 17% increase in alcohol deaths compared with 2019. These figures highlight the devastating impact alcohol can have on people’s health, with 1,190 lives lost to alcohol and thousands of families who are having to cope with loss. It is particularly worrying that, after adjusting for age, alcohol-specific death rates in the most deprived areas were 4.1 times more than those in the least deprived areas. 

Drinkaware’s research over the last year has shown that, although some people have drunk less during the pandemic, many individuals drinking at a harmful level have continued to do so, or even begun drinking more. For adults who have been drinking more than they usually would have since the start of the pandemic and those who have not taken steps to reduce their drinking in this time, there is a real risk of harmful drinking habits becoming ingrained. 

“Drinkaware welcomes the Scottish Government’s focus on alcohol harm, and a 10% fall in the number of alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland in 2019 was indicative of good progress. We are enthusiastic to work closely with the Scottish Government to ensure further prominence of alcohol harm prevention strategies within public health policies to prevent the impact of the pandemic undermining that good progress. In addition to providing the appropriate alcohol advice and support to those out of work, employers will also have a crucial role to play in continuing to support those who have struggled to balance work and other responsibilities throughout the pandemic.  

“The important thing for individuals to remember is that, if you or someone you care about is drinking more than usual, it’s not too late to cut down or find support. Understanding what triggers you to drink more can help you avoid reaching for alcohol. Sticking to the Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines of no more than 14 units a week is a good place to start to help you keep track and further information is available from the Drinkaware website.” 

NOTE: Drinkaware defines harmful drinking using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C) scoring system. A risk score is determined by the following brackets: ‘low risk’ (scoring 0-4 through the AUDIT-C questionnaire); ‘increasing risk’ drinkers scoring 5-7, and ‘higher risk’ drinkers scoring 8-12. Within the higher risk category we also look at the subset scoring 11-12, defined as ‘possible dependence’. Scoring is based on how often people have a drink containing alcohol, how many units of alcohol people drink on a typical day when drinking and how often people have had six or more units if female, or 8 or more if male, on a single occasion in the last year.