The number of people with brain damage from alcohol is the highest it has been in ten years, according to Scottish NHS figures.
Hundreds of people a week – an average of nearly two a day – are being treated in hospitals for brain damage caused by reckless boozing.
Last year 661 people needed medical attention because they drank so much; too much alcohol can cause problems with memory, learning and thinking.
Some 22 deaths per week in Scotland are directly linked to alcohol, according to recent NHS figures, and last year there were 36,000 hospital inpatient stays because of drinking.
Campaigners are pleading with the Scottish Government to do more to combat problem drinking, saying alcohol is too cheap and easy to buy.
And a questionnaire used by medical professionals can reveal whether you are at risk of damaging your health with alcohol – take the test at the bottom of this page.
Scotland’s public health minister, Joe FitzPatrick, revealed in response to a Parliamentary question that 661 people were treated last year for brain damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption.
This figure is up 25 from 636 in 2015-16 and up from the 590 recorded cases in 2007.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the most admissions for brain damage caused by alcohol, with 230 people last year.
NHS Lothian was next with 99, followed by NHS Lanarkshire with 84.
Campaigners urged the Scottish Government to do more, and criticised the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) for slashing funding for schemes aimed at tackling alcohol abuse.
Alison Douglas of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: ‘Increases in preventable conditions like alcohol-related brain damage are devastating consequences of the high levels of alcohol consumption we have, driven by widespread availability, low prices and heavy marketing of alcohol.
‘Minimum unit pricing will save hundreds of lives but it is not sufficient to turn the tide of alcohol harm.’
Alcohol destroys brain cells
Alcohol-related brain damage, also known as ARBD, can happen because alcohol is toxic and damages brain cells, it dehydrates the body which shrinks and kills brain cells, and it makes it difficult for the body to absorb crucial vitamins.
Symptoms can include memory loss, depression, mood swings and aggressiveness, difficulty doing everyday tasks, and poor decision-making.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said: ‘It’s worrying that these statistics continue to rise, and means more people are having their lives badly impacted by too much alcohol.’
He added that despite the SNP’s attempts to curb excessive drinking by introducing minimum pricing, ‘it’s clear far more will be required if we are to make any meaningful difference’.
‘The Government must take full responsibility’
Mr Briggs said: ‘The SNP has been in power since 2007. In that time more people have been admitted to hospital with this problem.
‘Health is a devolved issue – ministers need to take full responsibility for this worsening situation.
‘The decision by SNP ministers to cut funding for alcohol and drug partnerships was wrong.’
NHS recommends a limit of six pints a week
The NHS recommends that men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week – the equivalent of six pints of beer.
Drinking too much can increase the risk of cancer, liver disease, brain damage, and heart disease.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘We recently implemented minimum unit pricing to tackle the cheap, high-strength alcohol that causes so much damage to families and communities.
‘We also provide funding to NHS Boards to treat local health needs, including people with alcohol-related brain injury.’