Scotland and alcohol. If it were a relationship status on Facebook, it would probably say "it's complicated".

How important is alcohol to our economy? And what can Scotland learn from other countries? What is its impact on our health and communities?

Across five days of in-depth coverage, starting on Monday, the Herald will delve into Scotland's relationship with alcohol to make sense of where we are, how we got here, and where we could be headed.

Bringing together exclusive insight and analysis and from across our reporting teams, we want to shine a spotlight the good and the bad across a broad range of topics including health, business, sport, education, culture, politics, and food and drink.


We will take a look at the factors which led Scotland's alcohol consumption to explode between 1950 and the mid-1990s, the ongoing legacy of the 'Peak Booze' years, and the impact of austerity and the Covid pandemic on the nation's drinking habits.

Why are alcohol deaths now at a 14-year high, and how are Scotland's treatment and rehabilitation services responding to the crisis?

Did minimum unit pricing work, why, and if so, how can that be squared with the rising tide of alcohol deaths?

Has alcohol become more or less affordable, why has drinking shifted from the pub to the home, and what other measures should we be pursuing to tackle alcohol-related harm?

How does harmful drinking and alcoholism among parents impact on children, and what are we doing about it?

The Herald: The series will cover all angles of Scotland's relationship with alcoholThe series will cover all angles of Scotland's relationship with alcohol (Image: PA)

We will hear from charities, experts, and counselling services, and discover the surprising ways that Russia - a nation notorious for its vodka consumption - managed to change its drinking habits.

We will take a look at the relationship between political parties and the alcohol industry, and ask what next week's Budget could mean for Scotland's drinks industry.

The series will also explore the changing attitudes to alcohol across the generations, from "sober clubbing" and the Scots choosing to giving up alcohol as a lifestyle choice, to the working men's clubs where drinking remains a social lifeline.

We pay a visit to Buckfast Abbey in Devon - the monastery whose tonic wine became synonymous with drinking in the west of Scotland - and hear how one former alcoholic went from the brink of suicide to coaching others to beat their own problem drinking.

We will look at how Scotland's approach to alcohol differs from other parts of Europe and ask why cheap alcohol doesn't necessarily lead to lower life expectancy.

The Herald: The series comes as alcohol deaths reached a 14-year high and Scotland prepares to raise the levy for minimum unit pricing from 50 to 65 penceThe series comes as alcohol deaths reached a 14-year high and Scotland prepares to raise the levy for minimum unit pricing from 50 to 65 pence (Image: PA)

In sport, the series will ask whether Scottish football is striking the right balance in its relationship with the alcohol industry, from the role of sponsorship to whether or not fans should be allowed to drink inside stadiums.

Alcohol is also implicated in some way in around half the crimes passing through the Scottish justice system.

We ask why specialist alcohol courts piloted in Glasgow and Dundee are now being rolled out nationally, and look at how rehabilitation from addiction is put at the heart of sentencing.

We look the growth in whisky exports and their value to the Scottish economy, and why drunken bad behaviour among theatregoers is becoming an increasing headache for the arts.

And finally, we will turn a spotlight on the media industry to ask where we went wrong, and to examine how journalism's own booze-fuelled past of long lunches and press bars fostered a culture of sexism, lost talent, and led to a tragic toll of lives lost to alcoholism.

Follow all the coverage in 'Scotland and Alcohol' from Monday, in print and online.