Alcohol deaths up 17 per cent in Scotland

Alcohol-related deaths have risen dramatically in Scotland, according to official figures.

Statistics released by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show deaths due to alcohol rose from 1,020 in 2019 to 1,190 in 2020 – the largest number since 2008.

Analysis by NRS reveals alcohol-related deaths were higher than average in all but two months of 2020.


Director of Statistical Services at NRS Peter Whitehouse said: “NRS figures released today show a marked increase in the number of deaths due to alcohol, reversing the fall seen in 2019.”

Deaths in the most deprived areas of Scotland were over four times larger than those in the least deprived areas.

The overall increase in alcohol-related deaths has been largely driven by a sharp rise in deaths among males – up 25 per cent on the figure for 2019.

Minimum unit price

In 2018, Scotland became the first country in the world to introduce minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol in an attempt to tackle its growing number of alcohol-related deaths.

Commenting on the latest figures in The Scotsman, Elinor Jayne – Director of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems – described MUP as an “important milestone” that had impacted sales, consumption and deaths.

She added: “However, inflation very rarely rests, so now we must see a renewed focus on price and for the minimum unit price to go up from 50p to 65p, so that its effectiveness is not eroded.”

MUP came into force in Wales in 2020. Its introduction in Northern Ireland has been deferred until 2022. There are currently no plans for MUP in England.

Also see:


Minimum alcohol pricing a potential ‘life-saver’, say experts

Scotland trials free alcohol for alcoholics

Pressure grows on Westminster to introduce minimum pricing

Calls for minimum unit pricing in England amid NHS alcohol abuse crisis

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