Booze deaths at their highest rate in 14 years
Rising alcohol-related death dates are “completely unacceptable” says a leading charity.
Alcohol Focus Scotland hit out after the country recorded its third consecutive increase in drink-related deaths.
Latest figures from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show that the number of people in Scotland whose death was caused by alcohol is at its highest level in 14 years.
In response, the Scottish Government has promised "substantial investment" and said it will work closely with third sector groups to combat the problem.
Laura Mahon, deputy chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said that the Scottish Government must take action to combat the 40% reduction in access to specialist alcohol services, and that the minimum unit price for booze must be raised further.
She 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."
Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister Elena Whitham said more work is required to reduce alcohol-related harm, adding that the third sector will have a vital role to play in this.
She said: "Every life lost is a tragedy and my sympathy goes to all those affected by the loss of a loved one through alcohol.
"While we will need to better understand the reasons for this increase in deaths, I will do all I can to reduce alcohol-related harm.
"We will continue to work closely with Alcohol and Drug Partnerships and the third sector to address this public health priority, backed by substantial investment."
The figures show that show 1,276 people died from conditions caused by alcohol in 2022.
This was 31 (2%) more than the previous year, which was the highest number since 2008.
Male deaths - which were unchanged at 836 - again accounted for about two thirds of alcohol-specific deaths, while female deaths increased by 31 to 440.
The alcohol death rate was 4.3 times higher in Scotland's most deprived areas than it was in the least deprived.
In comparison, there were 1.8 times more deaths of any cause in the most deprived areas than in the least deprived.
Alcohol-specific deaths were also higher than drug deaths in 2022, after figures released last week the number of drug deaths in Scotland had gone down for the first time in five years.
The NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area - the largest in the country - recorded the highest number of deaths with 326, followed by NHS Lanarkshire with 200 and NHS Lothian - which includes Edinburgh - with 153.
The majority of deaths logged alcoholic liver disease as an underlying cause of death - 778 in total.