Alcohol

Bottles of alcohol

On these pages you will find an overview of the alcohol-related programme of work being taken forward by NHS Health Scotland.


The health and wellbeing of a large number of people in Scotland is being harmed, directly or indirectly, by excessive alcohol consumption and the extent of social harms related to alcohol is increasingly recognised. Alcohol related hospital admissions have quadrupled, death rates have nearly tripled since the early 1980s and the cost of alcohol misuse to the Scottish economy has been estimated at around £3.56 billion per year.

International evidence suggests that effective alcohol policy should encompass a range of interventions (including regulatory measures, support and treatment interventions and changes in culture and attitudes) delivered via a comprehensive approach aimed at the whole population with particular targeting of high risk groups.

The NHS Health Scotland Alcohol Programme supports the implementation and delivery of the Scottish Government’s strategic approach to tackling alcohol misuse Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action(external link). The Framework is broad based, focusing on reducing alcohol consumption, supporting families and communities, developing a positive public attitude towards alcohol, ensuring that individuals are better placed to make positive choices about the role of alcohol in their lives, and improving support and treatment for those who require it.

HEAT Standard: Alcohol Brief Interventions

NHS Health Scotland supported NHS Boards to meet the HEAT H4 Alcohol Brief Interventions Target set by Scottish Government for the delivery of Alcohol Brief Interventions (ABIs) locally (April 2008 - March 2011).
HEAT:H4 (Health Efficiency Access and Treatment) target (external link).
NHS Health Scotland continues to support NHS Boards to build on this work in the priority settings of primary care, accident and emergency and antenatal care, while also supporting them to develop ABI delivery in non-HEAT settings.
The ABI HEAT Standard National Guidance 2014-15 sets out the national guidance for the HEAT standard, underlining that the delivery of ABIs remains a key priority for 2014-15.

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Cross Organisation Alcohol and Drugs Team

The NHS Health Scotland cross organisation alcohol and drugs team is a multidisciplinary team with skills in evaluation, evidence synthesis, data analysis, programme management, learning and workforce development, and communications. Together we work to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Individuals and identified organisations have the competency, resources and culture to plan, deliver and evaluate high quality equitable services in alcohol and drugs.
  • The workforce is knowledgeable, skilled, confident, motivated and resourced to deliver alcohol and drug health improvement programmes effectively.
  • Individuals and identified organisations have a shared knowledge of the evidence base enabling them to inform alcohol and drug policy and practice.

The Learning and Workforce Development team advise on and create sustainable health improvement workforce development opportunities and delivery systems.  They work with advisory groups and networks to support the sharing of learning and good practice, workforce mapping and guidance documents. They provide a range of online learning modules and a virtual learning environment for trainer support and development in addition to their training for trainers programmes. These support frontline workers in early identification, brief interventions and behaviour change.

At the request of Scottish Government, NHS Health Scotland leads on Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland´s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS). The evaluation will comprise of a portfolio of studies which started at the beginning of 2010 and are due to finish in 2015, with the monitoring of routine data continuing beyond. The most recent MESAS report is listed in the side panel and further information on MESAS can be found at Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland´s Alcohol Strategy.

The Alcohol and Offenders Criminal Justice Research Programme aims to better understand the extent and nature of alcohol problems in offenders and which effective interventions can address them. The relationship between alcohol and crime - in particular violent crime - is clear, therefore reducing alcohol problems in offenders has the potential for wider outcomes such as a reduction in offending and health inequalities.

The Healthy Working Lives (external link) programme encourages employers to increase staff awareness of alcohol related harm as well as giving information and guidance on the economic and social impact that alcohol and drugs can have on the organisation. Support is also given to assist employers to develop and implement workplace alcohol policies.

The cross organisation alcohol and drug team supports the Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) across Scotland to plan and deliver effective local strategies to reduce harm from alcohol and drugs. Further information on ADPs and their Core Outcomes can be found on the Scottish Government website along with Alcohol Reports and Key Developments.

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Reviewed 20 March 2014