National Records of Scotland (NRS) has found that alcohol-specific deaths increased slightly in 2021 compared to 2020. In 2020 there were 1190 alcohol-specific deaths this has risen to 1245 in 2021. This is a 5% (55) increase and the highest number of alcohol-specific deaths recorded since 2008.
The rate of mortality from alcohol-specific causes was 22.3 deaths per 100,000 people in 2021. This is higher than the 21.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2020, but not a statistically significant increase, and remains below the highest rate of deaths from alcohol in 2006.
Two-thirds of the alcohol-specific deaths were men. The average age for death due to alcohol-specific causes was 58.7 years for females and 59.7 years for males.
Health inequalities increased the rate of alcohol-specific deaths for the most deprived in Scotland.
Health inequalities are a feature of alcohol-specific deaths,” said Julie Ramsay, Vital Events Statistician at NRS, as per National Records of Scotland.
Deaths attributed to alcohol were 5.6 times as likely in the most deprived areas of Scotland compared to the least deprived areas. This is more than the deprivation gap for all causes of death, which is 1.9. Two-thirds of those who died last year were male.”Julie Ramsay, Vital Events Statistician, NRS
The need to increase MUP in Scotland
Scotland has made strides in advancing alcohol policy solutions to protect more people from alcohol harm, specifically with the historic adoption of the minimum unit pricing (MUP) policy. The policy has led to dramatic decreases in alcohol sales in the country.
- In 2020, overall alcohol sales in Scotland fell to a 26-year low since records began.
- A Lancet study found that alcohol purchases in Scotland declined since the introduction of MUP, specifically in households that purchased the most alcohol – as intended by the policy.
There is a need to further raise the MUP to increase the policy’s health gains. Communities have been advocating for raising the current 50p to 65p. This would match the alcohol floor price to the inflation rate and ensure continued public health gains from MUP.
Furthermore, there is a need to improve the treatment and support services for alcohol and other drug use problems in Scotland. As Movendi International previously reported, in Scotland people wait an average of eight years to obtain any form of support for their own/family alcohol or other drug use problems.
The continued increase in alcohol-specific deaths for the second consecutive year shows that Scotland urgently needs to improve treatment and support services to save lives in the short-term while maintaining preventive policy solutions to protect the Scottish people in the long term.