Research by Scotland’s Alcohol Action Group finds alcohol is ‘everywhere’ in Scotland

Research by Scotland’s Alcohol Action Group finds alcohol is ‘everywhere’ in Scotland

A report published by Scotland’s Alcohol Action Group has found that people living in Scotland are exposed to alcohol every day through a variety of sources including advertising, marketing, and branded merchandise.

To find out just how prevalent alcohol is in Scotland, the Group surveyed its members – including individuals and families directly affected by alcohol misuse – to find out just how widespread alcohol messages are in homes, communities, online spaces, and other parts of public life.

Participants in the Alcohol Everywhere report encountered an alcohol-related message, imagery or branding multiple times throughout the day, highlighting the challenge facing people struggling to overcome alcohol dependency. 

What happened during the study?

Alcohol Action Group was founded in 2020 by Scottish Families Affected by Drugs and Alcohol (SFAD) to understand the presence of alcohol in communities across Scotland.

In January 2021, a survey of 35 of the Group’s members was carried out, to gain a better understanding of just how widespread alcohol messages are in everyday life.

Those taking part were asked to make a note of how many different references to alcohol they encountered each day while carrying out normal activities.

As Covid-19 restrictions began to ease, a second survey was conducted throughout September and the first half of October 2021, with 28 people taking part.

In addition to noting down the number of alcohol messages they encountered each day, this time participants were also asked to give their view on the marketing of alcohol products.

Key findings

The report provided a fascinating insight into people’s thoughts and feelings surrounding the presence of alcohol in everyday life, as well as the prevalence of marketing in local communities.

During the first survey, the participants reported being exposed to over 350 messages relating to alcohol during a short period, including via email, in shops, during conversations with friends and colleagues, and on greeting cards. Alcohol messages were most prevalent online and on television.

The second survey resulted in similar findings, with 100% of participants stating they had noticed people drinking more in the wake of the pandemic.

Members of Alcohol Action Group also shared some of their own experiences of alcohol prevalence, questioning its role in everyday life, and acknowledging the difficulty of avoiding alcohol day-to-day.  

Commenting on the findings Justina Murray, CEO of SFAD, said: “The people who carried out this research, many of whom have been personally harmed by alcohol, didn’t need to make any great effort to find alcohol references. 

“Alcohol has been normalised to such an extent that we are now in a state of collective denial about the harm it causes to our families and communities.”

Giving Back

As an accredited laboratory providing court-approved alcohol testing for family law professionals, social workers, and local authorities, we know all to well the impact that alcohol misuse can have on individuals and their families.

That’s why, throughout 2022, we’re donating £5 for every legal instruction received to our four charity partners, SFAD, Nacoa, NYAS, and TGP Cymru.

We’ve already raised more than £50,000 for these incredible causes in just 18 months, helping them to continue their work supporting vulnerable children and families across the UK.

For more information about alcohol testing for legal matters or to request a quote for our services, call 0333 600 1300 or email

Legal alcohol testing

Learn more about our court-approved alcohol testing using hair, blood and nail samples.