Action must be taken now to stop alcohol-specific deaths ‘spiralling out of control’, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.
Statistics published on Tuesday have revealed that there were 1,190 alcohol-specific deaths registered in Scotland in 2020, a 17 per cent increase since 2019 and the highest number recorded since 2008.
Across south Scotland most figures have remained steady, though increases were seen in the larger health boards of Lanarkshire and Lothian.
Colin Smyth urged Humza Yousaf to ‘act now’ to get services back on track and said more must be done to tackle the root social causes of alcohol misuse.
He said: “We shouldn’t forget that every one of these numbers represents the loss of someone who was much loved and who leaves behind grieving family and friends. My thoughts are with them.
“It’s clear that the pandemic has caused the number of alcohol-related deaths to rise and everything possible must be done to get treatment and rehabilitation services back on track.
“With deaths four times higher in the most deprived areas it is obvious that action is needed, not only to reduce alcohol-related harm and deaths, but to tackle the underlying causes of alcohol misuse. These figures come on the back of the recent drug related death statistics and show just how badly we are tackling the health crisis caused by alcohol and drugs”
“For too long the SNP Scottish Government has failed to properly resource alcohol support services.
“When the Scottish Government finally publishes their long promised NHS recovery plan, restarting treatment services must be a top priority and the government must implement measures beyond minimum unit pricing, including restrictions on marketing and restoring the cuts made to alcohol treatment budgets, to address Scotland’s problematic and deadly relationship with alcohol.”