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 1276 deaths were attributed to alcohol-specific causes last year, 31 more than in 2021; the highest number since 2008.

Male deaths continue to account for around two thirds of alcohol-specific deaths. Female deaths increased by 31 to 440, with the number of alcohol-specific male deaths unchanged at 836.

Taking into account the changing size and age-structure of the population, the rate of death had changed from 22.3 per 100,000 to 22.9 per 100,000 over the last year. This is not considered statistically significant.

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Daniel Burns, head of Vital Events Statistics, said: “Looking at the long-term trend the number of deaths from alcohol-specific causes fell between 2006 and 2012 but has risen since and is now about the same as 2010 levels.

“In 2022, the average age at death for females from an alcohol-specific cause was 58.7 years and for males it was 60.0 years.”

There are 4.3 times as many deaths from these causes in the most deprived communities as in the least deprived communities but this equality gap has been narrowing. This compares to a ratio of 1.8 times for all causes of death.

Laura Mahon, deputy chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "For the third year in a row we've seen deaths caused by alcohol increasing. This is completely unacceptable, with each of these deaths being preventable. We need to be going further and faster in our efforts to reverse this appalling trend."

“The impact of minimum unit pricing has been positive, and the number of alcohol-related deaths would be much higher without it. Increasing minimum unit pricing in-line with inflation, at least to 65p would help save many more lives. We need to go further than one policy on its own though. The Scottish Government must deliver on the commitments made in the 2018 alcohol strategy.

"This includes a strong focus on preventing people from developing alcohol problems in the first place alongside urgent action to combat the 40% reduction in access to specialist alcohol services over the last decade."