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Alcohol is a drug

Alcohol is a legal, drug when consumed according to law. In Scotland, the drug is seen as an integral part of Scottish life; used to celebrate, commiserate and socialise.

It’s also a toxic substance that can create dependence and causes serious health and social problems. Drinking too much, too often, increases the risk of cancer and liver disease, being involved in an accident, being a victim or perpetrator of crime, experiencing family breakdown, and losing employment.

Often it’s people other than the drinker who feel the effects the most: children, family, friends, colleagues and those working in front line services like the NHS and police.


The Cost

Alcohol related NHS Scotland, Social Work Services, Criminal Justice & Fire, Wider Economic Costs, Human/Social Costs to Scottish society in 2006/2007 of alcohol misuse is estimated at approximately £2.25bn.

An estimated 17 million working days are lost each year by people missing work due to the effects of alcohol.

In 2005 there were a total of 2,372 alcohol related deaths in Scotland.

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Alcohol and public transport

You can drink and buy alcohol on national trains in the UK. However, operators can decide to run ‘dry’ trains where you can’t consume or carry alcohol on board, for example trains going to football matches or other sporting events. Where this happens, notices are put up in advance to warn passengers[1].

Even outside of these areas, the police can take away alcohol or move on under 18s if they have been drinking. The police can also fine or arrest under 18s drinking in public places[2].

Focus on Aberdeen.

Alcohol in the family

Alcoholism is destructive to those closest to the alcoholic, and it affects families in several different ways. Many times, rehabilitating an alcoholic is only one part of the process of healing a home. Family members may also need support and counseling.

Alcoholic families suffer from a range of problems. Spouses can live in constant conflict. Children may develop low self-esteem, loneliness and fear of abandonment. Infants may even be born with lifelong birth defects. When support is not sought out, the results can be severe.

Alcohol abuse can lead to many family problems. These are a few of the most prominent:

  • Conflict between spouses
  • Infidelity
  • Domestic violence
  • Economic hardships
  • Isolation or divorce
  • Jealousy
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome

Find out how to get help for a family member using drugs or alcohol [This will take you to a new website]

[1] http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN05117
[2] https://www.gov.uk/alcohol-young-people-law



How much can I drink and stay under the limit?

It’s not that simple. Your limits are affected by:

  • Metabolism
  • Type of alcohol
  • What you have eaten
  • Stress levels

How quickly does alcohol leave my system?

Again there is no sure answer. Here’s the rough science:

  • Be safe. Count from the time you stop drinking
  • Allow one hour for each unit of alcohol
  • Add an additional hour for the alcohol to enter the bloodstream

Remember you can’t speed up the process.

What is the penalty?

Being in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

You may get:

  • 3 months’ imprisonment
  • up to £2,500 fine
  • a possible driving ban

Driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink

You may get:

  • 6 months’ imprisonment
  • an unlimited fine
  • a driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years)

Refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis

You may get:

  • 6 months’ imprisonment
  • an unlimited fine
  • a ban from driving for at least 1 year

Don’t risk it. Don’t drink and drive. More information can be found at www.gov.uk/drink-driving-penalties

Check out the morning after calculator.


By gender

Percentage exceeding guidelines on weekly alcohol consumption (over 14 units) among adults, 2003-2015, by sex.


By Income

For both men and women, there was a clear association between household income and the propensity to exceed the recommended limit of 14 units per week and thus be classified as a hazardous/harmful drinker (revised guidelines).

Among women, the age-standardised prevalence of hazardous/harmful drinking declined gradually from 24% of those in the highest income quintile drinking at hazardous/harmful levels to 11% of those in the two lowest income quintiles.

For men, levels of hazardous/harmful drinking were similar among the three quintiles with the highest income (40-46%) with a significantly lower level among the two lowest income quintiles (25% and 26%).

Percentage of hazardous/harmful alcohol consumption (age-standardised) (revised guidelines), 2015, by household income