Alcohol treatments have dropped as funding was cut amid warning of crisis

Across Scotland the number of people accessing treatment dropped by 40% and in Glasgow it was even higher at 58%

Charity, Alcohol Focus Scotland said the reduction over the last decade coincided with a period when budgets for Alcohol and Drug Partnerships were cut by the Scottish Government.

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GPs dealing with the health implications of excessive alcohol consumption said it has reached a “crisis level”.

It showed that since 2011/12 across Scotland the number of people accessing specialist treatments dropped from 27,595 to 19,617 in 2021/22

For Glasgow, the figures were a drop from 11,895 in 2013/14 to 4,901 in 2021/22.

The charity said alcohol deaths are at the highest level since 2008 and warned investment and action on alcohol pricing and promotion is needed.

It stated: “In 2021, 1,245 people lost their lives to alcohol-specific causes, the highest number since 2008.”

And it highlighted the importance of funding stating: “The period of decline coincides with a period when funding to Alcohol and Drugs Partnerships, who are responsible for overseeing local alcohol services, was cut by 20% from £69.2 to £53.8 million.”

Laura Mahon, Deputy Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “The drop in the level of treatment in Scotland over the last ten years is shocking and deeply concerning.

“This drop in treatment coincides with a period when budgets for Alcohol & Drug Partnerships were cut. At the time, many of us feared that those cuts would affect service provision and it now appears that is the case.

“The Scottish Government urgently needs to invest in alcohol treatment and to monitor provision to ensure these vital services are maintained.”

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Meanwhile, GPs said 700 people are hospitalised and 24 die each week from alcohol.

Dr Carey Lunan, GP and Chair of the Scottish Deep End Project, said “Alcohol-related harms are at crisis level in Scotland.

“That suffering is experienced most in our most deprived communities.”

The GP said there has been a “significant reduction in the support available to people”.

Dr Lunan, added: “It is essential that investment in specialist services is prioritised to ensure that they are supported earlier and to relieve future demand on our NHS. This must be accompanied by preventative action on low prices and aggressive marketing which encourage and normalise high levels of alcohol consumption.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government, said: “We’re determined to do all we can to reduce alcohol-related harm – that’s why we have introduced initiatives such as our world-leading Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) in the face of significant challenge.

“Recent research estimated it has helped reduce alcohol sales to their lowest on record, saved hundreds of lives and is having an effect in our most deprived areas.

“We’re also are working on initiatives that will support communities across Scotland to address harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption.

“Last year £106.8 million was made available to Alcohol and Drugs Partnerships to support local and national initiatives, including £50.3 million to support National Mission priorities. Our National Mission includes investment in residential rehabilitation where the majority of patients are being treated for issues related either solely to alcohol or a combination of alcohol and drugs.”

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