Scotland recorded a sharp increase in alcohol-related deaths, and the figure became the highest number of deaths in 10 years. Smoking and drinking are popular lifestyles which dominate the social circles of humanity. Global trends have depicted how people of all ages are indulging in such a lifestyle, especially during college or university life, where a lot of experimentation with substances occurs. The trends also show many females joining in substance intake. Thus a huge chunk of the world’s population is filled with people who smoke or drink.
According to the National Records of Scotland (NRS) statistics, there were about 1 190 alcohol-specific deaths in the country. This number increased by 170 from the one recorded in 2019. It became an all-time high figure to be recorded since 2008. Among the deaths, males are likely to have the largest number, and females also contribute fairly to the death rates. Such stats reveal a 17% increase from last year’s figure in Scotland. The NRS report showed deaths solely caused by alcohol consumption and any health-related complications enacted by alcoholic substances’ presence in the human body.
Alcoholic liver disease, mental and behavioral disorders were fingered as the major culprits in causing most deaths among Scottish people since 2000. Liver disease is intensified due to the emerging of more alcoholic content and various experimentations conducted in which people try to “get more drunk.” Studies show that the human body can adjust and get used to certain alcohol levels, which results in a person not getting drunk. Because of this, people tend to look for stronger stuff which have a high alcohol content, making the liver prone to infections and complications. Since not everyone can afford quality beer or wine, some substandard alcohol products are deemed harmful to the body and can affect one’s inner organs.
According to the released report, a lot of people who are in their 50s and 60s died due to alcohol-specific deaths. The average age among the deaths was pegged at 59,9 for males and 57,4 for females. Public Health Minister Maree Todd contended how coronavirus legal travel and gathering restrictions aided the increment of alcohol intake. Many people and others were heavily consuming alcohol because they were just idle indoors. She said, “Although alcohol consumption in Scotland dropped in 200, evidence from various surveys had shown those who were drinking heavily before the pandemic were more likely to increase their drinking lockdown, thereby increasing their risk of harm” [Source].
The NHS report accessible for download on [Source] revealed how alcohol-specific deaths increased between 2012 and 2018 but declined by 10% in 2019. The year 2020 brought a different scenario in which these figures drastically increased as necessitated by the lockdowns launched during the global pandemic. The chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, Alison Douglas, was not displeased with the increasing numbers of alcohol-specific deaths and said it is “devastating to see.”
She also said, “It is a stark reminder that we cannot afford to take our eye off the ball where alcohol harm is concerned.”
She commended the Scottish government for making progressing in addressing drinking problems among its citizens through policies such as minimum unit pricing but posited how the covid-19 had reversed all those accomplishments by forcing people to find solace in drinking heavily. She added that “Many people, particularly heavier drinkers, have reported that they have increased their drinking during the last 18 months.”
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, the chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, compared the alcohol-specific deaths in surrounding nations and concluded that in 2019, figures in Scotland were the same as those in Northern Ireland. The death rates in England and Wales remain unchanged, but trends show a heavy consumption rate during the corona lockdowns in both nations. Of all UK constituent countries, Scotland had the highest number of alcohol-specific deaths since 2001, as noted by the report.
The NHS report shows a rate of 21,5 deaths per 100 000 in Scotland. A run-down of the deaths was presented in varying entities, which included “alcohol-specific deaths by sex, month, age, cause, NHS board area, council area, deprivation, and urban-rural classification.” The highest death rates were recorded in April, October, and November, with each month having 110 deaths. Age groups which dominated the death rates were ranging from 50 to 64 years. In terms of deaths by NHS Board area, Greater Glasgow had the highest number, which translated to 26%, Lanarkshire had 25,9%, the Western Isles with 25,2%, and Highland had 21.8%. The councils with the highest death were Inverclyde 31,6%, Glasgow 31,3%, and North Lanarkshire 29,8% [Source].
Deprived areas had a death rate of 4,3 times the figures recorded in the least deprived areas. The largest urban areas recorded 24,8 deaths per 100 000, and other urban areas had 25,2 deaths per 100 000. Remote rural areas and accessible rural areas had 12 deaths per 100 000 and 12,9 deaths per 100 000 respectively. About 69% of the overall deaths were males, meaning that men account “for over two-thirds.”
Scottish Conservative health spokeswoman Annie Wells propounded on how other factors other than the pandemic must be considered for intensifying drinking in Scotland. She said, “It would be a grievous mistake to assume this increase is down to the pandemic alone.”
The health spokeswoman concurred that the global crisis did cause a large number of these deaths, but there is an urgent need to establish more reliable treatment and rehabilitation services for those with drinking problems. She advised the government to support the ‘Right to Recovery Bill,’ which is being pushed by her party. According to Wells, the Bill will ensure that people access drug or alcohol addiction treatment as quickly as possible. She added that “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.”
Wells pointed out a pertinent issue which can be a solution to alcohol misuse. If the Scottish government deals with push-factors causing people to get drunk, then these death rates might decline.