Scotland’s alcohol deaths reach highest level for over a decade

Scotland’s alcohol deaths reach highest level for over a decade

Official figures show that alcohol-related deaths in Scotland rose by 17% last year, reaching their highest level for more than 10 years.

The shocking National Records of Scotland statistics show that in 2020, there were 1,190 deaths registered in Scotland that were caused by alcohol. This is 170 more than the previous year, and the highest number recorded since 2008.

Alcoholic liver disease and mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol have been the leading causes of alcohol death since 2000.

In 2020, most deaths caused by alcohol occurred in people in their 50s and 60s, with the average age being 59.9 for men and 57.4 for women.

Men are twice as likely as women to die from alcohol-related causes. In 2020, seven out of every 10 of the deaths were men.

Deaths caused by alcohol in the most deprived areas of Scotland were also four times higher than those in the least deprived areas. In 2020, Inverclyde had the highest death rate at 31.6 per 100,000 people.

The highest rate of alcohol-related deaths normally occurs in January each year. However, 2020 saw higher numbers of alcohol-related deaths during the months of April, October, and November, each of which had 110 deaths.

Although these numbers cannot be directly attributed to the pandemic or lockdown measures, the dates do coincide with the introduction of tough Covid restrictions both at the start of the pandemic, and during the run-up to Christmas.

Public Health Minister Maree Todd claimed that lockdown had resulted in people who were already drinking heavily, consuming even more alcohol.

She said: “Although alcohol consumption in Scotland dropped in 2020, evidence from various surveys has shown those who were drinking heavily before the pandemic were more likely to increase their drinking during lockdown, thereby increasing their risk of harm.”

Justina Murray, from Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (SFAD), said that the charity’s helpline had been “inundated” since March last year.

She said: “A common theme has been how impossible it is to reach alcohol treatment and support when you need it, with phones ringing out, messages not returned, and few options offered when you do actually reach help.”

AlphaBiolabs offer a wide range of legal alcohol testing services to local authorities and family law solicitors across the UK. We can also provide workplace alcohol testing, to keep your premises and your employees safer.

To find out more about alcohol testing, contact our Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email

Throughout 2021, we are supporting some of the country’s most vulnerable families and communities through our Giving Back campaign. For every legal instruction we receive this year, we will donate £5 to our charity partners, including SFAD.