Counting the cost of heavy drinking

Alcohol-related harm in Argyll and Bute is costing the equivalent of £314 per year for every person in the area, a report has revealed.

The area has the highest number of licensed premises in all of Scotland, and young people’s use of alcohol is also above the national average.

In financial terms, crime and loss of production are the main problems caused by heavy drinking
In financial terms, crime and loss of production are the main problems caused by heavy drinking

Alcohol Focus Scotland says drink cost Argyll and Bute £28m in 2011 – the highest proportion of this was crime, estimated at £10.42m, but lost productive capacity was put at £10.1m.

Alcohol was reckoned to be costing health services £4m a year and social care £3.45m.

The highest rates of hospitalisation caused by drinking were found in Dunoon, Campbeltown and Oban – with more than 2% of people in Oban South being treated in hospital for alcohol conditions.

The statistics were revealed by in a report by health promotion specialist Craig McNally to the council’s community planning group, which meets next Tuesday.

He says smoking and heavy drinking should not be looked at in isolation, but linked to issues such as poverty, employment and education.

He added: “This approach can include activities and programmes aimed at reducing risky behaviours and/or improving community attitudes to alcohol use and can be delivered in settings ranging from nurseries and schools through to adult education centres and older people’s forums.”

His report also details alcohol awareness projects in schools and workplaces, as well as Alcohol Brief Interventions (ABI), which aim to reduce the average consumption of the whole population, not just ‘dependant drinkers’.

He adds: “Hazardous drinking patterns can include anyone who drinks more than six units (female) or eight units (male) of alcohol on a regular basis.

“As such the target group for delivery of ABI in Scotland is a relatively high percentage of the population.”

A study last year showed there were 80.7 on and off trade licensed premises in Argyll and Bute per 10,000 population; the local figure was more than twice the Scottish average, which was 38.8 per 10,000.

Figures show alcohol use is far higher in Scotland than the rest of the UK.
Figures show alcohol use is far higher in Scotland than the rest of the UK.