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 1981/82, until 2020/21 and psychiatric hospital admissions from 1997/98 until 2020/21

Main points

  • In the financial year 2020/21 there were 35,124 alcohol-related hospital admissions (stays) in Scotland. The majority of alcohol-related hospital admissions (94%) were treated in general acute hospitals (33,015). 2,109 (6%) admissions occurred in psychiatric hospitals.
  • The 33,015 admissions to general acute hospitals relate to 21,480 patients. Around half of these patients were admitted for the first time for alcohol-related conditions.
Image caption Alcohol-related hospitalisation rates for general acute hospitals, Scotland, financial years 1981/82 until 2020/21

Notes: European age sex standardised rates (EASR). Provisional.

  • In 2020/21 the rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions to general acute hospitals was 614 per 100,000 populations and was 10% lower than the rate recorded during 2019/20 (681 per 100,000). The COVID-19 pandemic and measures put in place to respond to the pandemic are likely to have contributed to the decrease observed in 2020/21. A longer term downward trend in the rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions to general acute hospitals has been observed since 2007/08 when the rate peaked at 855 per 100,000 population.
  • Men were 2.3 times more likely than women to be admitted to general acute hospitals for alcohol-related conditions (851 per 100,000 population compared to 376 per 100,000 population).
  • 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 (968 per 100,000 population compared to 144 per 100,000 population).


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, such as damage to the liver and brain. Estimates of the number of inpatient and day case hospitalisations are based on counts where alcohol-related conditions are diagnosed during the hospital stay (see Metadata for more information).

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.

Data presented for 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 are provisional and subject to change in future publications as figures will be updated to reflect more complete data from NHS Boards.

Further information

The next full release of this publication will be in early 2023.

General enquiries

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

Media enquiries

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

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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: 21 March 2024
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