Early morning drinkers are a familiar sight in Scottish towns. Picture by Bill Heaney

By Bill Heaney

Scottish Labour has warned that the SNP’s failures on public health have cost lives as alcohol-specific deaths rise.

A new  report on alcohol-specific deaths has revealed that 1,276 people died as a direct consequence of alcohol misuse, with the number of deaths rising to its highest point in 15 years.

The alcohol-specific mortality rate in the most deprived areas was a shocking 4.3 times higher than it was in the least deprived.

Over the last decade, there has been an appalling 11,200 alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland.

This only includes deaths wholly attributable to alcohol misuse – not all deaths where alcohol was a factor.

Scottish Labour branded these figures a “public health emergency” and slammed the SNP’s record of cuts to Alcohol and Drug Partnerships.

Scottish Labour Public Health spokesperson Carol Mochan said “This is a heartbreaking reminder of how many lives have been needlessly lost because of alcohol and how many families have been torn apart.

“Every single one of these deaths is a tragedy, and the effect on the poorest communities is a national scandal.

“This is a public health emergency on the same scale as Scotland’s drug death crisis, and both are the legacy of the SNP’s shameful cuts to Drug and Alcohol Partnerships.

“The SNP’s failure on public health is costing lives and devastating the poorest communities –  we urgently need a comprehensive plan to support treatment services and ensure those struggling with alcohol can get the help they need.”

Responding to the news that the number of people in Scotland whose death was caused by alcohol has risen again to the highest level in 14 years, with 1,276 people dying from conditions caused by alcohol in 2022 alone.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:  “These figures are devastating and speak to lives lost and families in mourning.

“The Scottish Government have been asleep at the wheel. In 2016, they slashed funding to drug and alcohol partnerships by more than 20%. Valuable local facilities saw services cut and expertise lost, which has since proven hard to replace.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats would help those struggling now and protect future generations from the same suffering. My party would establish new specialist Family Drug and Alcohol Partnerships to provide wraparound services. More broadly, we would strengthen drug and alcohol partnership budgets, adopting the principle that individuals and families shouldn’t have to pay for the care and treatment of those at risk of death from drugs or alcohol.”

And the Conservatives are also up in arms about the new figures.

 Shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP, said: “These figures are utterly shocking. Every one of these 1,276 deaths is a tragedy and has left families across Scotland grieving the loss of a loved one due to alcohol.

“It is clear that the SNP wedding themselves to their flagship policy of minimum unit pricing is simply not working. It is increasingly proving to be a blunt instrument to tackle a complex problem.

“The SNP Government have even now had to embarrassingly amend a press release in which they were boasting about the apparent success of minimum unit pricing.

“Alcohol related-deaths are at their highest since 2008 on the SNP’s watch and are heading in the wrong direction year after year. Most shamefully for SNP ministers it is people living in our most deprived communities who are suffering the most as a result of the SNP’s failure to get on top of this crisis.

“If we are to ever get a grip of alcohol addiction in Scotland, then SNP ministers must stop dithering and back the Scottish Conservatives’ Right to Recovery Bill.

“That would give people suffering from addiction the right to access treatment and is backed by frontline experts. With the alcohol death toll rising again, there is simply no excuse for the SNP not to act now.”

  • The number of deaths from alcohol-specific causes rose in Scotland in 2022 by 2%, according to figures published today by National Records of Scotland.
  • In total 1,276 deaths were attributed to alcohol-specific causes last year, 31 more than in 2021; the highest number since 2008.
  • In the last decade, there has been 11,209 deaths.
  • There are 4.3 times as many deaths from these causes in the most deprived communities as in the least deprived communities.

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