Wrapped Up In Books

11.8L of pure alcohol per annum (Booze culture)

That’s what the Scots manage to drink. It’s astounding, isn’t it? I warned my mom (fitness guru to many, moonlights as a human string bean) that I’ve gained weight from drinking a lot more than I used to. However, I wouldn’t say that I drink nearly as much as the average Scotsperson.

I’ve been keeping track of a few BBC Health articles that are documenting the downward spiral this country seems to be sucked into.  The government is in talks to establish minimum drink prices (boo!) to help curb binge drinking (aka, ‘regular drinking’ here… I’m kidding, sort of).  They suggest no bottle of wine be sold for less than £4.50, about $9 CDN, which is still cheaper than any wine I’ve ever seen in Canada – including the tetrapak business.  But that’s an aside.

Hospitalizations for drinking-related injuries and accidents are on the rise and it’s said that the NHS is spending upwards of £2.7 billion annually for this (£365 million at minimum being spent in Scotland alone), which is a seriously dear sum of money.  The number of alcohol-related hospitalizations in the UK have doubled since 1995; last year there were 207,800 admissions compared to 1995’s 93,500 (still dire).  Furthermore, about 10% of that number are patients who aren’t of the legal drinking age, 18. Still, hospitalizations among the 65+ age group are also on the rise.

As it stands, Scotland leads the UK for number of alcohol-related deaths each year. Scotland lose about 27 per 100,000 citizens to the drink annually, while England, Wales, and Northern Ireland each stand at about 12, 13, and 14  per 100,000 people, respectively.  The population of this country is approximately 5 million, so that equates to 1350 dying each year.

The people who probably suffer the most live in Glasgow, where men living in poorer areas of the city have a life expectancy of 54 years old.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The sheer alcohol consumption, in combination with cigarette smoking, is robbing families of fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers.  The alcohol-related death rates are six and a half times that of the national average: in the Ibrox area, 176 per 100,000 men and even 58 per 100,000 women succumb to alcohol abuse.

Data collected from the World Health Organization demonstrates the severity of the drinking here: Scotland ranks 8th in the world for alcohol consumption.  It stands just behind Luxembourg (15.6 litres per capita), Ireland (13.7 litres), Hungary (13.6 litres), Moldova (13.2 litres), Czech Republic (13.0 litres), Croatia (12.3 litres) and Germany (12.0 litres).

Clearly interventions are needed, and I don’t think raising the price of alcohol will benefit anyone.  Awareness is what’s needed most; to stop serving any more beer to those people barely able to stand in the pub, to put warning labels on packaging (it’s been at least moderately successful with cigarette packaging in Canada), and, generally, to adopt an in-your-face attitude to responsible drinking everywhere.  This country is in serious need of a rude awakening.  I don’t understand how they haven’t had one already.

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