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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-13867: Michelle Ballantyne (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 15 January 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to research of 18- to 75-year-olds by Drinkaware, which suggests that, in the last year, (a) 47% said that they had drunk alcohol to improve their mood and (b) 58% said that alcohol helped them to cope with pressures of day-to-day life.

Answered by: Aileen Campbell 26 January 2018

The Scottish Government acknowledges that motivations are an important aspect of drinking behaviour. The Drinkaware research report (https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/media/1852/drinking-to-cope-jan-2018.pdf) referred to in the question specifically focussed on adults in the UK who drink for coping reasons. The wider report (https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/research/our-research-and-evaluation-reports/drinkaware-monitor-2017/ ) found that the most common motivations overall for drinking alcohol are social with 84% of those of those who drink alcohol in the UK doing so at least some of the time for this reason.

The Scottish Government takes a whole population approach to reducing alcohol-related harm recognising that alcohol misuse can affect all sectors of the population. Our Alcohol Framework, published in 2009, contains over 40 measures and actions to tackle alcohol misuse. The implementation of minimum unit pricing on 1 May 2018 will address the cheap, high strength alcohol that does so much damage to our communities. We will be refreshing our Alcohol Framework this year, providing opportunity to further consider the additional actions and steps needed to tackle alcohol-related harm in Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy 2017-27 – a 10 year vision (http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/03/1750/0), published in March 2017, recognises that mental health issues commonly co-exist with problem substance use (alcohol and drugs). The Strategy highlights that Integration Authorities will wish to ensure that alcohol, drugs, mental health services and social services work jointly and in a holistic way, so that people receive help with substance misuse and any underlying mental health issues. The Scottish Government provides NHS24 with £825,000 per annum to run Breathing Space (a confidential phone line for anyone in Scotland feeling low, anxious or depressed) and £200,000 per annum to run NHS Living Life (a phone and computer based psychological therapy service).