Statistics: drinking in Scotland

Recent research has suggested that alcohol directly contributes to 11% of emergency admissions in Scotland; primarily, these cases involved some form of alcohol-related injury and intoxication. Alcohol was also stated as the principal cause of 1,399 deaths in Scotland in 2006. Alcohol was also attributed to 4,053 psychiatric discharges in 2006 and 2007. Scotland has one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the world; over a third of people drink more than the recommended daily limit. Young people are drinking more than ever in Scotland, with children as young as 14 drinking alcohol regularly.

Effects of drinking

Short term effects

Short term effects of drinking are usually associated with a feeling of drunkenness which may commonly cause you to feel energetic, excitable, giggly, drowsy or confused. Many people feel more confident when they have drunk alcohol and are more likely to do things they wouldn’t normally do; in many cases this can be harmless, however alcohol can seriously impair our ability to make decisions and therefore you may find you end up doing things you would never even consider doing when you are sober. Alcohol consumption has been directly linked to an increase in accidents and poor sexual health habits.

Physiologically, alcohol can cause the nervous system to become suppressed which can stop you from feeling pain and sensations such as heat or cold; this can be dangerous. Alcohol also commonly causes slurred speech and double vision. In many cases, drinking moderately will have no harmful effects; however you should take care to monitor your alcohol consumption.

Long term effects

The long term effects of drinking heavily can be extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening. Prolonged consumption of alcohol has been directly linked to several forms of cancer, heart disease, strokes and cirrhosis of the liver; alcohol is also a significant contributor to mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Research carried out recently on 6000 Scottish men suggested that men who drank more than 5 units per day were twice as likely to have a stroke as those who drank less.

Prolonged drinking also decreases fertility and changes an individual’s physical appearance; often people who drink heavily have visible veins, swollen red noses and brittle nails.

Tackling alcoholism

If you think you are drinking too much, you should try to gradually reduce the amount of alcohol you consume; try to spread units over a period of time rather than binge drinking; this puts extreme stress on the body and can be extremely dangerous. If you think you have an addiction you should consult your GP who will be able to assess your condition and suggest a suitable treatment pathway; you can also seek help from charities such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Scottish Ministers and health experts have repeatedly voiced their concern regarding the high rate of alcohol consumption in Scotland; consequently initiatives are being launched to reduce the amount of alcohol people consume and raise awareness of the dangers associated with excessive and prolonged drinking. New laws relating to the sale of alcohol are currently under scrutiny.