Scots mothers are to be targeted in a new publicly funded drive to make them aware of the serious dangers of habitual drinking.

Experts will step in at an early stage to help parents, who might open a bottle of wine in the evening, along with other groups of people who are vulnerable to alcohol addiction.

The £300,000 scheme in Glasgow will aim to provide support to shift workers, who often enjoy a drink after finishing their anti-social shifts, and white-collar professionals who may end a working day by uncorking a bottle of wine.

Other groups prioritised include the retired, as ceasing work coincides with an increase in habitual drinking, and young men aged around 18-25, whose cocaine use at the weekend is high, largely to enable them to keep drinking.

The UK-wide Addaction charity, which is receiving funding from Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board, aims to reduce the number of people who go on to need specialist treatment services.

It is taking a "whole-population" approach to the issue, providing so-called brief interventions to those who are drinking more than they should, to enable them to change before their alcohol use becomes a health problem.

Acceptable safe alcohol intake is four units of alcohol a day for men (the equivalent of two pints of normal-strength beer) and three for women (a large glass of wine), but health chiefs believe many people are stepping over that mark by regularly drinking too much to help cope with the stresses of life.

The number of women in Scotland aged between 35 and 54 who die from drink-related illness has doubled over the past decade.

The Alcohol Behaviour Change programme will be officially launched by Public Health Minister Michael Matheson tomorrow.

It means GPs will be able to refer patients who are willing to look at the amount they drink to Addaction's service at the touch of a button. They will be contacted in a range of ways, including by phone and email, and offered tips to help address their drinking levels. These range from keeping a diary and setting targets to attending motivational interviews.

People are likely to be urged to make small changes in behaviour rather than stop drinking altogether.

As well as reducing demand for expensive alcohol dependency services, the scheme will tackle the costs to business and social services of problems such as absenteeism.

Between 6% and 15% of employee absences are thought to be alcohol-related, with an estimated cost to the Scottish economy of between £109m and £274m a year. Presenteeism also has its price, with estimates suggesting workers who turn up hung over cost the economy £154m each year.

However, levels of drinking in Glasgow are so high that many people – including health professionals – view them as the norm. Asking GPs to re-assess these views will be part of the team's work.

John Goldie, head of addictions for the Glasgow South Community Health and Care Partnership, said: "We are in an unenviable position in Scotland and particularly Glasgow in terms of our relationship to alcohol. Many people don't equate their health problem as related to their drinking."

He added: "There is a problem with the credibility of the information. The public don't believe they have a problem because they may be holding down a job."

Even GPs are sometimes sceptical of the results, according to Jill Breslin, service manager for the ABC project. "We are telling them, 'this may be the norm coming into your surgery, but it is a level at which we need you to intervene'," she said.

"The danger level is 50 units and over a week for a man."

Only one in 10 people assessed by their GPs as having an alcohol-related problem are in any form of treatment. This is partly because in the past, sending them to community addiction teams would have been the only option.

Andrew Horne, director of operations for Addaction in Scotland, said: "If people are saying I don't remember what I did last night, that's not normal. If that is an accurate statement, you need to be considering cutting down."