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Alcohol-related brain damage at record high

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​Minimum pricing alone not sufficient to address health impact of alcoholism

Alcohol is causing a rise in brain damage to hundreds of Scots with new figures showing record numbers being admitted to hospital.

A parliamentary question tabled by Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs revealed 661 cases last year – nearly two per day, and an increase of 25 from 2015-16.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde was the worst affected with 230 cases of alcohol-related brain damage last year.

Excessive drinking over time has a catastrophic impact on memory, learning and cognitive skills. Symptoms can include memory loss, depression, mood swings and aggressiveness, difficulty doing everyday tasks, and poor decision-making.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “Increases in preventable conditions like alcohol related brain damage are the devastating consequence of the high levels of alcohol consumption we have in Scotland, driven by widespread availability, low prices and heavy marketing of alcohol.

“Minimum unit pricing will save hundreds of lives, but everyone agrees it is not sufficient to turn the tide of alcohol harm. The upcoming alcohol strategy provides an opportunity for Scottish Government to take clear and decisive action to tackle the availability of alcohol and significantly reduce the amount of alcohol marketing in Scotland.”

The NHS recommends that men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, the equivalent of six pints of beer.

Drinking too much can increase the risk of cancer, liver disease, brain damage, and heart disease.

A Scottish government spokesperson said: “We’re currently refreshing our alcohol strategy, providing an opportunity to further consider any additional actions and steps needed.”

 

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