Scottish drinking habits: Rise in number of teetotalers

The number of teetotal Scots has risen in the past 11 years. Picture: TSPL
The number of teetotal Scots has risen in the past 11 years. Picture: TSPL
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THE number of Scots who do not drink has increased in the last 11 years, according to a new study.

Nearly one in five women (18 per cent) and one in seven men (14 percent) say they do not drink alcohol The Scottish Health Survey has revealed.

Weekly alcohol consumtpion has fallen since 2003 Picture: ScotCen

Weekly alcohol consumtpion has fallen since 2003 Picture: ScotCen

This is a notable increase from 2003 when 13 per cent of women and 8 per cent of men identified themselves as non-drinkers.

The survey, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government, provides a detailed picture of the nation’s health and the drinking habits of Scots.

Average weekly alcohol consumption has declined also, from 19.8 units a week for men and 9.0 units for women in 2003, to 13.6 and 7.4, respectively, in 2014. Both genders, on average, just drinking within the recommended guidelines of 21 units a week for men and 14 units per week for women.

The number of days that Scots choose to drink in an average week has decreased since 2003. In 2014, male drinkers consumed alcohol on 2.7 days in the previous week compared with 2.4 days for female drinkers. Both these figures were lower than 2003 levels (3.3 days for men, 2.7 days for women).

The research, which was undertaken by ScotCen Social Research, discovered a significant gap in drinking habits among the richest and poorest sections of society.

Almost a third of men (31 per cent) and a fifth of women (22 per cent) from highest income households were drank to harmful levels compared to 18 percent of men and 13 percent of women from the lowest income households.

Commenting on the survey findings, Barbara O’Donnell, Acting Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “It is encouraging that people are drinking less alcohol, less often.

“However, this overall trend masks differences in consumption and harm among different groups in our society. It’s concerning that more people in higher income households are drinking at levels which puts them at risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and liver damage. But alcohol-related deaths are six times higher in the most deprived areas of Scotland, and twice as high among men than women.

“As a society we make it easy for people to drink to excess. Marketing campaigns convince us that alcohol is an essential part of everyday life, while the cheap prices and easy availability makes it difficult for people to exercise restraint. We need to create healthier environments which provide better safeguards from the pressures to drink.”