Excessive alcohol consumption is a growing problem throughout Scotland, including in my constituency in the Borders. Lifestyles and the way in which alcohol is presented have changed. Increasingly, alcohol is used simply as a means to get drunk as quickly as possible rather than as a means to relax and socialise. Recent statistics show that alcohol abuse is extending its harmful effects to include increases in crime, death, disease and the consumption of alcohol among underage children.
We believe that the problem deserves immediate attention and effective laws, not only to address the problem and find solutions but to raise public awareness and prevent the future growth of alcohol abuse in Scotland.
The excessive alcohol consumption in Scotland in recent years has been highlighted in a number of studies. Some suggest that alcohol consumption in Scotland has risen by 23 per cent in the past 10 years. In 2002-03, the economic cost of alcohol misuse in Scotland was estimated to be £1.1 billion per annum. In 2003-04, more than 26,000 people were admitted to hospital with alcohol-related illnesses, and in 2005 there were 2,372 deaths with alcohol as an underlying factor.