Readers' letters: Alcohol is Scotland’s main drug problem

"Alcohol related deaths should include suicides, accidents, house fires, drownings and assaults”

Saturday, 21st August 2021, 8:00 am
The number of alcohol-specific deaths has decreased by 10 per cent.

Alcohol is Scotland’s main drug problem

Latest figures show a 17 per cent rise in alcohol related deaths to 1190 in 2020 as suicide deaths drop slightly to 805 during the time of the Covid pandemic.

Government published alcohol related deaths only include deaths where the damage to organs such as the liver, the brain, the heart and others show undeniable damage from long-term alcohol consumption.

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Such damage occurs over a very long time, not in one year, when a problem like Covid was rife. In reality the actual figure for alcohol related deaths should include suicides, road traffic accidents, house fires, other accidents such as drownings, violent assaults.

To understand the link between suicide and alcohol, the government should look to the nature of the drug alcohol and see that tinkering at the edges of our nation’s love of alcohol, with sticking plaster policies like minimum prices is never going to curb alcohol misuse. The higher the price of alcohol, the less our poorest problems drinkers can afford it, so they are forced to turn to less expensive drugs to ease pain and mental health.

In the last couple of years Scotland has become the highly successful world leader in the creation of over 300 new extremely expensive gins. More affluent drinkers cannot get enough of them. The drug alcohol is one superb source of income to our government so they are very reluctant to do anything to kill that golden egg.

Time to face the facts, alcohol is and always has been Scotland’s biggest drug problem. Better alcohol education without fear of backlash from the alcohol industry, and taxing their profits to pay for the urgently needed drug and alcohol addiction and support services is where we should be heading, not increasing unit prices of alcohol to 65p.

Max Cruickshank, Glasgow.

Time for Scotland to manage its finances

GERS is a testament to Westminster’s mismanage-ment of Scotland’s economy. Despite extracting less oil and gas from the North Sea, Norway has generated over £400 billion more than the UK in direct tax revenues.

If Jill Stephenson checks (letters, 20 August), she would find Norway, Ireland, Finland and Denmark all managed to support businesses and individuals throughout the Covid pandemic to the same, if not greater extent than the UK and pay higher pensions.

The UK economy is the most unequal in Europe, with the vast majority of government investment in London and the South East, sucking the life out of the other regions and nations, leaving Scotland with a high estimated notional deficit as part of the UK.

Scotland is a country with more natural wealth and economic resources per head than any European nation. At a time when global attention is on climate change, Scotland is uniquely placed to benefit from our massive renewable potential. But unlike Norway and Denmark, the Scottish government does not have the powers to make this happen and our renewables industries are paying the highest connection charges in Europe.

If Scotland was to become an independent country tomorrow, it would be one of the top 30 wealthiest countries.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh.

Nicola’s Green turn

Not long ago, Nicola Sturgeon was passionate about slashing Air Passenger Duty in Scotland to attract significantly more aircraft, in full knowledge of the consequential environmental impact.

Now, ahead of COP 26 we'll undoubtedly be treated to an equally passionate Ms Sturgeon claiming her new relationship with the Greens is a tangible demonstration of her eco credentials.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.