By Rory Murphy

Action must be taken now to stop alcohol-specific deaths ‘spiralling out of control’, Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has said today, as statistics have shown a steep increase in the number of deaths across Scotland.

Within West Dunbartonshire, alcohol related deaths per 100,000 people has risen from 30 per 100,000 in 2000-2004 to 40 per 100,000 in 2016-2020. Argyll and Bute’s figures have remained roughly the same for this period with alcohol related deaths sitting at around 20 per 100,000.

Statistics published this morning have revealed that there were 1,190 alcohol-specific deaths registered in Scotland in 2020, a 17 per cent increase since 2019 and the highest number recorded since 2008.

The statistics also show that the rates of male alcohol-specific deaths (31.3 deaths per 100,000) were more than double the rates for females (12.7 deaths per 100,000) and that males accounted for over two-thirds (69%) of alcohol-specific deaths.

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.

Jackie Baillie has said that Humza Yousaf, pictured right, must act now to get services back on track and that more must be done to tackle the root social causes of alcohol misuse.

 Jackie Baillie MSP said:  “The sharp rise in alcohol-specific deaths is deeply concerning. It’s clear that the pandemic has caused the number of alcohol-related deaths to rise and everything possible must be done to get treatment and rehabilitation services back on track.

“With deaths four times higher in the most deprived areas it is obvious that action is needed, not only to reduce alcohol-related harm and deaths, but to tackle the underlying causes of alcohol misuse.

“For too long the SNP has failed to properly resource alcohol support services.

“When Humza Yousaf finally finds time to develop an NHS recovery plan, restarting treatment services must be a top priority and the government must implement measures beyond minimum unit pricing, including restrictions on marketing and restoring the cuts made to alcohol treatment budgets, to address Scotland’s problematic and deadly relationship with alcohol.”

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