Alcohol killing five Scots every day
AT least five Scots die of alcohol-related illnesses every day - three times more than 20 years ago.
New figures released today show that alcohol was a factor in the deaths of 2052 people in 2004, and more than 70 per cent of these were men.
This is an increase of almost four per cent from the previous year and a rise of a fifth from 2000, when the figure was 1694.
The total number last year equates to more than five Scots losing their lives to alcohol-related conditions every day.
Last week, NHS watchdogs revealed that in the Lothians during the last three years, 5266 people were admitted to hospital after drinking too much.
Quality Improvement Scotland also found that people living in areas of deprivation were six times more likely than those living in richer areas to be admitted to hospital as an emergency for alcoholic liver disease.
This report estimated the cost of Scotland's drinking culture to the economy was 1.1 billion and drinkers ran an increased risk of developing cancer and mental illness as well as liver disease.
Today's figures released by the NHS show there were 40,448 discharges from hospital involving an alcohol-related diagnosis in 2004-05 - a rate of 748 per 100,000 Scots. In the same year in the Lothians, there were 4963 discharges - a three per cent increase on 2003-04.
During last year, 2839 patients in the Lothians were registered as having mental and behavioural disorders due to the use of alcohol - a slight increase on the previous year.
The Western Isles had the highest overall alcohol-related discharge rates, followed by Glasgow and Inverclyde.
A total of 7754 discharges - a fifth of the total - involved an emergency admission and, of these, more than half were admitted on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Deputy health minister Lewis Macdonald said the Scottish Executive had reformed the country's licensing system and it continued to publicise the dangers of alcohol misuse.
However, the minister insisted every person in Scotland had a responsibility to respect alcohol and drink sensibly.
He added: "Scotland has a long-established culture of heavy drinking which carries a significant financial and human cost to society. We all need to face up to the massive problems this causes.
"Drinking too much can cause long-term health problems including liver damage and increased risk of heart disease and stroke. It can also increase the risk of breast cancer."
Scots Tory health spokes-woman Nanette Milne said the figures raised questions about the Executive's strategy to tackle the problem.
Dr Milne said: "The parties that were governing Scotland five years ago are the same ones that are doing it today, so you have to wonder just how effective these measures Lewis Macdonald is talking about will be.
"These figures confirm the increasingly serious problem of excessive alcohol consumption.
"Just last week we were told about the huge rise in emergency admissions for chronic liver disease and its complications. Both sets of figures are a massive cause for concern."
She added: "Education is clearly required and we have to take action to curb under-age drinking.
"The law on this should be seriously enforced at all times and the consequences for under-age drinking health-wise must be made plain to the parents of children who indulge in this, as well as the children themselves."
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