SCOTLAND'S alcohol death rate has risen for the second year running as the country takes the UK’s top spot in the latest statistics of alcohol related fatalities.

A new study released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that an average of 21.5 deaths per 100,000 of the population were caused by booze in 2020.

The figure is an increase on 18.6 deaths per 100,000 the year before.

Director of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (Shaap), Elinor Jayne said that Scotland’s figures are unacceptable.

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She said: “The harm caused by alcohol in Scotland is once again highlighted by new data showing that, of the four nations of the UK, we have the highest alcohol-specific death rate, with a significant increase in deaths in 2020,” she said.

“For every person who has died, there are many, many left behind who will be dealing with the suffering caused by alcohol, both while their loved one was alive and now that they are dead.

“And for every person who has died, there are many, many more in Scotland who have an alcohol problem which is affecting their daily lives, relationships and health.

“We should not accept that somehow alcohol harm is acceptable in Scotland.”

Elsewhere in the UK, Wales recorded 13.9 deaths per 100,000, while England reported a rate of 13.

Despite boasting the lowest rates in the UK, England and Wales saw the biggest percentage increases – 19.3 per cent and 17.8 per cent respectively.

Scotland’s rise in figures means that the country now has the highest alcohol death rate and is significantly above the rest of the UK. Ireland had the highest rate the previous year, but despite their figures rising from 18.8 to 19.6 deaths per 100,000 they move to the second highest.

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The highest jump in the Scottish figures was seen in men, rising from 25.2 per 100,000 to 31.3, while the equivalent rate for women rose by just 0.1 to 12.7.

Ms Jayne called for an increase to the minimum unit price of alcohol.

She added: ““We need more to be done to prevent problems from developing, such as increasing the level of minimum unit pricing from 50p to 65p and restricting marketing of alcohol.

“On top of that, we must now see a real focus on the services and treatment that people with alcohol problems in Scotland should be able to access, with a view to increasing capacity and making it much easier for people with alcohol problems to gain the support and treatment they need to reduce consumption or stop drinking altogether.”