With today’s release of the 2019 Alcohol-Specific Death statistics confirming a further 1,020 deaths last year, Scotland has reached a distressing total of over 10,000 alcohol deaths over the past 10 years. (2010-2019 total: 10,784).
Everything we have seen and heard about drinking patterns during COVID lockdown and the ongoing COVID restrictions suggests that alcohol consumption significantly increased since March this year. This could have been a short-term trend in the spring as the country adapted to different working and leisure patterns, along with new pressures and anxieties. However our Helpline contacts suggest these harmful and hazardous levels of drinking have continued throughout the summer and well into the autumn. Our Helpline has seen a 78% increase in contacts this year overall, however this includes a 122% increase in concerns around alcohol from people worried about their own use, and from their family members.
Since March, Scottish Families has continually highlighted the challenges for individuals and families trying to reach community-based treatment services. With walk-in support largely suspended and limited alternative contact options, services continue to be extremely hard to reach, particularly for new referrals. Just at a time when more people are reaching out for help, and are demonstrating a clear motivation to address problem drinking, we continue to face real challenges connecting people in with the treatment they need.
Today we are focusing on the 1,020 new alcohol deaths recorded last year, but these figures will only continue to rise unless we can rapidly and effectively link people into community-based treatment and support options.
Justina Murray, CEO, stated:
“Scotland’s ongoing unhealthy relationship with alcohol means that alcohol harm and alcohol deaths are hidden in plain sight. Significant resource, media interest and political weight are focused on the critical issue of drug-related deaths, but we need to remember that more people in Scotland have died through alcohol over the past 10 years. These lives are equally important and their families also deserve better.”