Support needed for impact of rising alcohol deaths on families, ministers told
Cheap alcohol has hidden cost on wider families, a charity warns as figures show spike in alcohol deaths
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The Scottish Government have been challenged to do more to support affected families following a report that alcohol-related deaths have risen.
Figures published this morning by the National Records of Scotland revealed a 10 percent rise in drink-associated fatalities, and the charity Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs identified the availability of cheap alcohol as the main problem.
The 1,265 deaths linked to booze were the highest figures in Scotland since 2010.
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An official statement from the organisation said: “Behind each one of these preventable deaths is an invisible family story – from those living under the same roof to those who have lost contact or become estranged from their family.
“Many of these families are left to deal with the impact of loss and grief on their own with no support for themselves.”
The Scottish Government had attempted to tackle alcohol related issues through its 2012 minimum unit pricing policy, however it has since been tied up in appeal courts amid a challenge from the drinks industry.
Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: “While progress has been made in tackling alcohol misuse, we want to go further.
“That’s why we need minimum unit pricing and we are pleased it continues to be supported by such a wide range of health professionals.
“We’re looking forward to the judgement of the Supreme Court on Minimum Unit Pricing and, if it is the positive outcome we hope for, we will move as quickly as is practicable to put the policy in place.
“Our Framework for Action outlines more than 40 measures to reduce alcohol-related harm, including the quantity discount ban, a ban on irresponsible promotions as well as a lower drink drive limit and our nationwide alcohol brief intervention programme.
“I will be refreshing our Alcohol Strategy later this year providing opportunity to further consider the additional actions and steps needed to tackle alcohol-related harm in Scotland.”
Both the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour criticised the SNP’s response to drink and drug problems, with the latter’s inequalities spokesperson, Monica Lennon MSP, drawing upon personal experiences when outlining her party’s support for alcohol-harm support services.
She said: “My own father's alcohol-related death in 2015 makes me determined to see alcohol-harm reducing in Scotland but sadly, more and more families are suffering.
“The Scottish Government must explain why alcohol-related deaths have increased by 10 per cent in the last year and prove it is willing to take bold action, both on prevention and in making sure the right support is in place for people, especially those affected by poverty.”
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “It is clear that more needs to be done by the SNP government to address the deeply embedded drink and drugs problem we have in Scotland.
“The fact that under this SNP government we have seen huge cuts to Scotland’s network of alcohol and drug partnerships is clearly impacting on what support is available across communities.”
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