The Scottish Health Survey: Alcohol Use

Weekly alcohol consumption levels: Average unit consumption has fallen since 2003 and hazardous and harmful drinking prevalence has dropped since 2003 but 25% of men and 18% of women still drink at hazardous or harmful levels.

  • In 2012 men drank an average of 15.2 units per week while women drank 7.6 units.
  • In 2012 men drank an average of 4.6 units less per week than in 2003 (19.8 units in 2003 and 15.2 units in 2012).
  • Average unit consumption for women declined from 9.0 units per week in 2003 to 7.6 units in 2012.
  • A quarter of men and 18% of women drank at hazardous or harmful levels (more than 21 units per week for men and more than 14 units for women) in 2012.
  • •Hazardous or harmful drinking prevalence has declined since 2003 although levels did not change significantly between 2011 and 2012.

Daily alcohol consumption levels: Average daily consumption for men and women has declined since 2003. However, 19% of men and 15% of women still are still drinking more than twice the recommended daily amount.

  • In 2012 men drank an average of 5.6 units of alcohol on their heaviest drinking day in the week prior to interview. The equivalent figure for women was 2.8 units.
  • On their heaviest drinking day, 42% of men and 30% of women exceeded the recommended daily maximum.
  • There has also been a decline in the proportion of men and women drinking more than the recommended daily amount (from 45% in 2003 to 42% in 2012 for men and from 37% to 30% for women).
  • A quarter of men and 15% of women drank more than twice the recommended daily amount.
  • The proportion drinking more than twice the recommended daily amount has also declined slightly since 2003 for both men (from 29% to 25% in 2012) and women (from 19% to 15% in 2012).

Adherence to weekly and daily drinking advice

  • Just under half (47%) of men and 35% of women drank out with the government’s guidelines on daily and weekly drinking in 2012.

Problem drinking: 19% of adults exhibit signs of alcohol disorder

  • One in five (19%) adults in Scotland exhibited signs of a possible alcohol use disorder according to their scores on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) screening tool, with men significantly more likely than women to do so (25% compared with 13% of women).
  • Men in low income households were more likely than those with higher household incomes to display signs of harmful drinking or possible alcohol dependence based on the AUDIT score (11% compared with only 2% in the highest income quintile).
  • When compared with men living in Scotland’s least deprived areas (Scottish Index of
  • Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) quintile 5), those living in the 20% most deprived areas (SIMD quintile 1) were significantly more likely to exhibit signs of a potential alcohol use disorder (32% versus 21%).

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