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BBC Scotland's Joanne Macaulay
"Calls have been made for the problem of alcohol abuse to receive as much attention as other drugs misuse"
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Monday, 25 September, 2000, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Scotland's booze culture attacked
Scotsman with a beer
Scotland is renowned as a hard-drinking country
Scotland's celebration of a hard-drinking reputation has been attacked by a prominent Liberal Democrat.

The Scots have a worldwide reputation for hitting the bottle, but Donald Gorrie has called on the Scottish Executive to take a co-ordinated approach over alcohol abuse.

The MSP is preparing to unveil plans for a Member's Bill on the issue.

Mr Gorrie said alcohol abuse was the biggest problem facing Scotland today.

Under-age drinking
Under-age drinking is a major problem
But despite the social difficulties caused - violence, marriage break-ups and ill health - he said there was no co-ordinated effort to address it.

In contrast the fight against drugs was allocated much greater resources and a national strategy, he said.

"My principle concern is, that at the moment, the problems caused by alcohol do not register on the political scale at all.

"They are actually much more important than issues raised by drugs.

'Not taken seriously'

"I'm not saying that drugs should get less attention, but I am saying alcohol abuse and the problems arising out of that - the violence, the health problems, under-age drinking - should get at least as much attention as drugs do," he added.

Mr Gorrie said the Scottish Executive should look closely at issues like the licensing laws, which needed tightening as part of a package of measures.

"Because most of us do drink a bit, it seems more difficult to take bad use of drink seriously," he said.

Donald Gorrie
Mr Gorrie wants to tackle Scotland's booze culture
"It's easy to say drugs are bad, but to stand up and say, 'look too much alcohol is bad so let's do something about it', is something people seem to shy away from."

He said good work was being carried out in certain areas, but that a national alcohol strategy would help to drive things forward.

"It's the biggest social problem in Scotland, it causes almost all of the violence, it causes a huge amount of ill health, it causes marital breakdown, people failing at work ...it often leads on to the use of drugs as well," said Mr Gorrie.

"At the moment there is a macho thing that the great thing for young Scottish men is to get totally plastered and have to be carried home or have a fight."

He added: "That is just not acceptable."

It is understood the executive has agreed to look at Mr Gorrie's proposals.

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See also:

11 Sep 98 | Education
Campus concern over binge drinking
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