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Scottish alcohol deaths at highest level for 13 years

Local News alcoholchange . org . uk

There were 1,245 deaths from ‘ conditions caused by alcohol ’ in Scotland last year , according to National Records of Scotland ( NRS ) statistics – a 5 per cent increase on 2020 and the highest number since 2008 . The figures were released a week after Scotland recorded a drug death total for 2021 that was just nine down on the previous year ’ s record figure ( www . drinkanddrugsnews . com / scotland-sees-slight-fall-in-drugrelated-deaths ).

As with the drug death figures , two thirds of the alcohol-specific deaths were among men , with the average age 59 for males and 58 for females . The death rate was more than five times higher in the country ’ s most deprived areas , compared to the least deprived .
Although Scotland ’ s alcoholrelated death rate remains higher than in other UK countries , the gap has narrowed over the last two decades . In 2001 , Scotland ’ s death rate was 2.9 times higher than England ’ s , compared to 1.7 times in 2020 . ‘ The high number of deaths from alcohol in 2021 is devastating and comes on top of a substantial increase in 2020 ,’ said Alcohol Focus Scotland
THE GOVERNMENT is to roll out ‘ up to ’ 18 new drug recovery wings in prisons across England and Wales by 2025 , it has announced , as well as increasing the number of ‘ incentivised substance-free ’ ( ISF ) living units from 25 to 100 . Prisoners in the ISF units will be regularly drug tested but will also receive peer support and incentives such as extra gym time to reward progress . They can then move to the new recovery wings for six months of further intensive treatment , where they will be encouraged to work towards abstinence from all drugs including substitute medications . chief executive Alison Douglas . The impacts were ‘ experienced unequally with many more people dying in our poorest communities ,’ she added . ‘ We seem to almost accept this toll as inevitable , but we should not ; each death can be prevented .’ Support services were ‘ inadequate ’ even before COVID , she said , with the problem worsening as many heavy drinkers increased their consumption . ‘ The Scottish Government has recognised alcohol harm as a public health emergency alongside drugs , but we have not yet seen an emergency response on the same scale ; they must act now .’
Last year also saw 4,859 deaths related to drug poisoning registered in England and Wales ,– the highest since records began almost 20 years ago and 6 per cent higher than in 2020 . More than 3,000 of the deaths were recorded as drug misuse deaths , says the Office for National Statistics ( ONS ). As has been the case for the past nine years , the highest rate of drug misuse deaths was in the North East , where the rate remains ‘ statistically significantly higher than all other regions of England ’.
Alcohol-specific deaths , 2021 at www . nrscotland . gov . uk

Recovery wings roll out

The approach will ‘ follow them through the prison gate , with offenders kept under closer control in the community with more drug testing , treatment and extra support ’, the government states . Fifty ‘ health and justice partnership co-ordinators ’ will also work between prisons , probation and treatment providers to help ensure the smooth transfer of treatment plans from prison to the community . The £ 120m funding for the recovery wings and ISF units – as well as ' problem-solving courts ' – comes from that already announced as part of the ten-year drugs strategy .
The impacts were ‘ experienced unequally with many more people dying in our poorest communities ... We seem to almost accept this toll as inevitable , but we should not .’
ALISON DOUGLAS

Know the risks

JUST 55 PER CENT OF UK ADULTS over 55 are aware that alcohol increases their cancer risk , according to a survey commissioned by the World Cancer Research Fund – meaning that ‘ those most at risk are among the least aware ’. More than two thirds of 25 to 34-year-olds were aware of the link , however . ‘ These new findings are really striking and go to show we still have a way to go before people are fully aware of the causes of cancer , and the steps we can all take to prevent it ,’ said World Cancer Research Fund chief executive Rachael Gormley .
BACK FROM THE BRINK Liverpool Walton MP Dan Carden is urging people to support the city ’ s newly reopened dry bar and café , The Brink . The venue is a place that ‘ supports a new way of life , and for many it has saved their life too ,’ he said . ‘ The Brink should be in every community , not just in the centre of Liverpool .’ www . facebook . com / brink . liverpool /
CLINIC CALL Kaleidoscope is looking to open a dedicated clinic for steroid users in Powys , as increasing numbers of people are attending its needle exchanges as a result of IPED use . A new peer scheme has been a ‘ phenomenal ’ success , said Powys service manager Barry Eveleigh . ‘ We want to expand the scheme for both peer work and a dedicated steroid clinic in Powys .’ Email info @ kaleidoscope68 . org .
GAME ON This year ’ s Recovery Games will take place at Hatfield Activity Centre in Doncaster on 24 September , following a two-year absence . ‘ Those taking part are on their own journey of recovery and once a year they join in and have fun with others who are also experiencing the recovery process ,’ said Aspire senior group work practitioner Neil Firbank . See feature , page 20
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