About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland provides information on alcohol-related inpatient and day case activity within general acute and psychiatric hospitals in Scotland. This release covers general acute hospital activity for the financial years 1981 to 1982, until 2019 to 2020 and psychiatric hospital admissions from 1997 to 1998 until 2018 to 2019. Due to limited data completeness the psychiatric hospital admissions have not been updated in this publication for the financial year 2019 to 2020.

Main points

  • In the financial year 2019 to 2020 there were 35,781 alcohol-related hospital admissions (stays) in general acute hospitals in Scotland.
  • These 35,781 admissions to general acute hospitals relate to 23,685 patients, some of whom had multiple admissions to hospital. Around half of these patients (11,901) were admitted for the first time for alcohol-related conditions.
  • Considering the long term trend since 1981 to 1982, there was a steep and sustained increase in general acute alcohol-related hospital admissions until the financial year 2007 to 2008 reaching a rate of 855.4 admissions per 100,000 population. Since then, numbers have fallen. This financial year’s rate was 666.6 per 100,000 population.
Image caption Alcohol-related hospitalisation rates for general acute hospitals, Scotland, financial years 1981 to 1982 until 2019 to 2020.

1 European age sex standardised rates (EASR). P Provisional

  • Men were 2.4 times more likely than women to be admitted to general acute hospitals for alcohol-related conditions (937.3 per 100,000 population compared to 396.0).
  • People in the most deprived areas were seven times more likely to be admitted to general acute hospitals for an alcohol-related condition than those in the least deprived areas (1,078.7 per 100,000 population compared to 155.0).


Excessive consumption of alcohol can result in a wide range of health problems. Some may occur after drinking over a relatively short period, such as acute intoxication (drunkenness) or poisoning (toxic effect). Others develop more gradually, only becoming evident after long-term heavy drinking, such as damage to the liver and brain. Alcohol is a contributing factor in a wide range of hospital admissions; this publication reports on admissions that are entirely due to alcohol.

The number of inpatient and day case hospitalisations are based on counts where one of a range of alcohol-related conditions are recorded during a stay in hospital. Attendances at Accident and Emergency that do not result in an admission to hospital are not included in this report. Individuals may have more than one stay in hospital during a year, therefore the number of people admitted will be less than the total number of stays.

This publication includes rates of activity presented as European Age-sex Standardised Rates (EASR) calculated using the 2013 European Standard Population.

Data presented for 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 are provisional and subject to change in future publications as figures will be updated to reflect more complete data from NHS Boards. The inpatient and day case data for this year are estimated to be 96% complete. However, NHS Forth Valley data are estimated to be only 41% complete.

Please note that this release includes the first month of Scotland going into emergency measures due to COVID-19, which will impact on hospital activity in March 2020. While it is not possible to identify the extent these countermeasures may have impacted on this publication as this report is presented for financial year 2019 to 2020 this should not have a large impact on the figures reported.

Further information

Figures relating to this publication can be viewed via our interactive dashboard, and data available from the data files section at the top of this page. Background information, glossary, and a metadata document, are also available.

The data can also be sourced on the NHS Scotland Open Data platform. The next full release of this publication will be in November 2021.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact phs.alcohol@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 07 October 2022
Was this page helpful?