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The human cost of alcohol - doctors speak out

Doctors reveal the stark reality of Scotland’s alcohol misuse problem in a new report published by BMA Scotland today.

In The Human Cost of Alcohol Misuse, doctors working in the NHS speak out about the serious health consequences of alcohol misuse on their patients.

In the last year, 42,430 patients were discharged from Scotland’s hospitals for alcohol related conditions. There has been a 400% increase in the number of people with alcoholic liver disease since 1996. In 2006, an estimated 111,200 GP consultations in Scotland were for alcohol misuse. Alcohol kills six people in Scotland every day.

Dr Peter Terry, Chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said:

“Alcohol can be an enjoyable part of social and cultural life in Scotland, but the growing ‘booze culture’ emerging in our towns and cities is creating serious health problems for the future.  Many people regularly drink more than the recommended levels of alcohol; ignoring the negative health consequences of this.

“The health effects of alcohol misuse are serious and severe and are related to more than 60 medical conditions. The lives of far too many Scots are being compromised and cut short by our relationship with alcohol.”

Dr Andrew Thomson, deputy chairman of the BMA’s UK Board of Science, said:

“We must call time on Scotland’s alcohol problem.  Reversing the trend of alcohol misuse will require strong political leadership and bold action. The debate about tackling alcohol misuse should not centre on the profits of supermarkets or drinks producers, but it should focus instead on how we can implement policies that will change drinking behaviours for the good of the nation’s health.

“No single action alone will change drinking behaviour in Scotland. Today’s report outlines a wide ranging, evidence based strategy that incorporates education and awareness into policies to reduce access and availability. For example, better labelling can help people to understand how much they are drinking and therefore make informed decisions about their alcohol consumption.

There is strong and consistent evidence that an increase in price will reduce consumption and BMA Scotland believes that this should form a central plank of any strategy to deal with alcohol misuse.

BMA Scotland