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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 August 2006, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Climb in alcohol-related deaths
Man drinking alcohol
The SNP said people with alcohol problems needed more help
The number of alcohol-related deaths in several health board areas in Scotland has risen to record levels, according to statistics.

The figures for 2005 in Argyll and Clyde stood at 177, with 76 in Fife and Lanarkshire recorded 184.

Across the country there has been a 20% rise in alcohol-related deaths since 1999, Scottish Executive figures show.

There has also been a rise in drug-related deaths - with fatalities involving heroin up by 25%.

The figures, revealed in a parliamentary answer to the Scottish National Party, showed there were 1,127 alcohol-related deaths across Scotland in 1998. This figure climbed to 1,513 by 2005.

We still have a long way to go in Scotland to tackle our rather problematic relationship with alcohol
Shona Robison
SNP health spokeswoman

In the Lanarkshire area the figure rose from 136 to 184 over the same period, while Argyll and Clyde witnessed a rise from 146 to 177.

The number of alcohol-related deaths in Greater Glasgow jumped from 319 to 376 and the NHS Lothian area saw a rise from 130 to 221.

Statistics for deaths involving heroin or morphine show there were 84 related deaths in Scotland in 1996 and 225 in 2004.

The number of deaths involving amphetamines rose from five in 1996 to 10 in 2004.

'Education required'

SNP health spokeswoman Shona Robison said people with drink and drugs problems needed more effective help and support.

She said: "It does concern me because it comes on the back of recent figures which showed a massive increase in the number of patients discharged from hospitals with alcohol-related conditions.

"It all adds up to show we still have a long way to go in Scotland to tackle our rather problematic relationship with alcohol."

Dr Nanette Milne, the Scottish Conservatives health spokeswoman, said: "Every six hours someone in Scotland dies from alcohol abuse.

"These figures confirm the increasingly serious problem of excessive alcohol consumption. The number of alcohol-related deaths in Scotland has essentially trebled in just over 20 years. This is alarming.

"Education is clearly required and we have to take action to curb underage drinking, because this is the root of the issue."

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