Health costs

  • Alcohol kills three people in Scotland every day (1,152 per year).
  • You are twice as likely to die of an alcohol-related health problem in Scotland than in the rest of the UK.
  • The number of people diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease has increased by 52% since 1998.
  • Emergency departments in Scotland deal with over 70 alcohol-related assaults every day.
  • One in six deaths on Scotland's roads is caused by drink driving.
  • Alcohol is a contributory factor in over half of deaths in fires in Scotland.
  • Alcohol-related problems are estimated to cost Scotland over £2 billion every year.
  • 44% of men and 36% of women in Scotland exceed the recommended daily limits of alcohol consumption.

Diseases linked to alcohol

Alcohol is a dependence-inducing, psychoactive drug which is linked to around 60 different diseases and conditions. Average alcohol consumption is causally related to the following major diseases:

  • tuberculosis
  • mouth, nasopharynx, other pharynx and oropharynx cancer
  • oesophageal cancer
  • colon and rectum cancer
  • liver cancer
  • female breast cancer
  • diabetes mellitus
  • alcohol use disorders
  • unipolar depressive disorders
  • epilepsy
  • hypertensive heart disease
  • ischaemic heart disease (IHD)
  • ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke
  • conduction disorders and other dysrhythmias
  • lower respiratory infections (pneumonia)
  • cirrhosis of the liver
  • preterm birth complications and feotal alcohol syndrome


For most conditions in which alcohol is a factor, there is a dose dependent relationship. That is, the more alcohol is consumed, the greater the risk of alcohol-related health harm.

There is no guaranteed safe level of alcohol consumption. Government guidelines recommend daily limits of alcohol consumption that carry a low risk of health damage.

For more information on the impact of alcohol on health, down SHAAP's factsheet Alcohol & Health.

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