DUMBARTON’S MSP has branded the recent rise in alcohol deaths as a “public health emergency”.

Figures published by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) this morning show that alcohol-related deaths have increased across Scotland with 1,276 registered in 2022, an increase of two percent (up by 31) from 2021.

In West Dunbartonshire, there were 21 alcohol-specific deaths recorded in 2022.

This is a reduction from 40 in the previous year.

Number of alcohol-specific deaths in West Dunbartonshire 

  • 2022 – 21
  • 2021 – 40
  • 2020 – 22
  • 2019 – 18
  • 2018 – 34

In the last five years, the local authority was among seven council areas where alcohol-related death rates were higher than the Scottish average.

The five-year average number of deaths between 2018 and 2022 was 135. This figure is down from 140 deaths between 2017 and 2021 but an increase from five years ago when it was 121 deaths for the years 2013 to 2017.

Jackie Baillie, Dumbarton's MSP, has welcomed the decrease in deaths across West Dunbartonshire but said the area's five-year average "remains a concern".

Ms Baillie commented: “These figures are a heartbreaking reminder of how many lives have been needlessly lost because of alcohol and how many families have been torn apart.

“While the figure in West Dunbartonshire has fallen over the past year which is welcome, the five-year average is greater here than the Scottish average. That remains a concern.

“Every single one of these deaths is a tragedy, and the effect on the poorest communities is a national scandal and this has a direct impact on our area.

“This is a public health emergency on the same scale as Scotland’s drug death crisis. Both are the legacy of the SNP’s shameful cuts to Drug and Alcohol Partnerships.

“The SNP’s failure on public health is costing lives and it is devastating the poorest communities.

"We urgently need a comprehensive plan to support treatment services and ensure those struggling with alcohol can get the help they need.”

Elena Whitham, Scottish Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister, commented: “Every life lost is a tragedy and my sympathy goes to all those affected by the loss of a loved one through alcohol.  

“While we will need to better understand the reasons for this increase in deaths, I will do all I can to reduce alcohol-related harm.

“We will continue to work closely with Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) and the third sector to address this public health priority, backed by substantial investment.

“This year £113 million will be made available to ADPs to support local and national initiatives ensuring that local services can respond to local needs.”