Scotland's relationship with drink is 'spinning out of control'
Thursday 02 January 2003
A culture of binge drinking means that alcohol is killing four times as many Scots as it did a generation ago, costing the country more than £1bn a year.
Latest statistics from the Department of Health reveal that one in four women aged between 18 and 24 now drinks to excess, compared with one in eight a decade ago, prompting Scotland's deputy chief medical officer, Dr Andrew Fraser, to warn the problem is on the verge of spinning out of control. "Other countries don't drink the way we drink," said Dr Fraser. "We have to relearn our relationship with alcohol."
One area of Glasgow has been named as having the world's highest incidence of a rare type of alcohol-related brain damage. Korsakov's syndrome is an irreversible condition that causes patients to lose their short-term memory.
More than 400 people a year in Scotland are diagnosed with the condition, most of them in the western area of the country, which is brought on not by the alcohol but by withdrawal caused when a drinker cuts their alcohol intake suddenly.
Last year the Scottish Executive launched a £1.5m advertising campaign to highlight the dangers of binge drinking after it was revealed that one in 10 of all accident and emergency admissions are attributed to excess drink.
But it is the rising "ladette" culture which is causing most concern. "Marriage has been delayed, women are getting much more into the workforce, they've got much more equal opportunities," said Professor Gerald Hastings, of Strathclyde University. "All wonderful things, all to be applauded. But alcohol is increasingly being equated with independence, with freedom, with equality with men."
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