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Consumption during the Pandemic
Tackling Scotland's Alcohol Problem

Consumption during the Pandemic

Consumption during the pandemic

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 2020 Scottish Health Survey was conducted by telephone between 5 August and 23 September 2020. Therefore there is limited information on drinking habits throughout the pandemic (the remainder of 2020, and 2021). Summary of Scottish Health Survey findings:

  • The proportion of adults who consumed alcohol on more than 5 days in the week prior to being interviewed increased with age. A similar pattern was also evident for the mean number of days on which alcohol was consumed over the past week
  • The proportion of men who drank more than 8 units on their heaviest drinking day (19%) was higher than the proportion of women who drank more than 6 units (11%)
  • Significant proportions of people reported changes to their drinking habits between the start of lockdown (23 March 2020) and the date of the interview (August/September 2020):
  • 24% said they increased the number of days on which they drank alcohol (17% said they decreased, meaning 59% said they stayed the same)
  • 12% said they increased the overall amount of alcohol they consumed (18% said they reduced consumption; 71% said they consumed the same amount)
  • Amongst people that drink, younger adults were more likely to report an increase in the frequency and quantity of alcohol consumed since the beginning of lockdown
  • Adults who drink alcohol who had been advised to shield were less likely to report an increase in the number of days on which they drank alcohol since the beginning of lockdown

Read the Scottish Health Survey – telephone survey – August/September 2020: main report (see Chapter 6)

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In 2020, population-level alcohol consumption in Scotland – estimated from alcohol retail sales – fell to its lowest level in the available time series (1994 onwards). 9.4 litres of pure alcohol were sold per adult, equivalent to an average consumption of 18 units per adult per week, which still substantially exceeds the low risk weekly drinking guideline of 14 units for men and women.

Read the MESAS Monitoring Report 2021

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