Alcohol, Harm and Health Inequalities in Scotland

Penny Rogers

Abstract
In Scotland alcohol-related harm follows a social gradient, meaning that deprived communities often experience more acute alcohol-related harm than affluent populations despite reporting similar levels of consumption. This research briefing will explore the ‘alcohol harm paradox’ and discuss how best to tackle health inequalities in Scotland.
Keywords
Public Health Policy, Deprivation, Alcohol, Health, Alcohol Harm Paradox
Key Points
  • Health inequalities are ‘socially produced’ and therefore ‘potentially avoidable.’
  • Possible explanatory factors for the alcohol harm paradox include: co-morbidities (smoking, obesity and physical inactivity), harmful consumption patterns and differential exposures to health risks.
  • In order to effectively tackle health inequalities and alcohol-related harm, ‘upstream’ measures should aim to reduce poverty levels and restrict alcohol availability.
  • Recommendations: licensing restrictions to reduce alcohol outlet density, more investment in prevention and early intervention – alcohol outreach services in deprived communities and bans on advertising.