RESIDENTS in Clydebank are still drinking too much despite modest improvements to Scotland’s alcohol consumption levels, says a leading charity.

New figures from Public Health Scotland suggest minimum alcohol pricing is having a positive affect, with the amount sold per person falling to the lowest level for 26 years.

But Dumbarton Area Council on Alcohol (DACA), which works across West Dunbartonshire, says local alcohol-related hospital admissions are still higher than the Scottish average – and the number of units consumed on average locally was 50 per cent higher than the recommended amount.

The Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) report show 9.4 litres of pure alcohol were sold per adult in 2020 - the equivalent to each adult in the country drinking 18 units a week.

A quarter of all adults reported exceeding the safe weekly drinking guideline of 14 units a week in 2019. This was down from more than a third in 2003.

There were 1,020 people whose deaths were described as being “wholly attributable to alcohol” in 2019 - an average of 20 people per week.

DACA chief executive Mags Mackenzie said: “Alcohol is still the primary contributing factor in a lot of human tragedy. We see it at an individual level every day at DACA, but it’s also illustrated in the health statistics for the region.

“In West Dunbartonshire, alcohol related hospital admissions are much higher than the Scottish average, and this is felt most acutely in our more deprived neighbourhoods, where the rates of admission are 68 per cent higher than the overall average.”

A total of 42.5 million litres of pure alcohol were sold in Scotland in 2020, the report revealed - with spirits and wine accounting for 31 per cent of sales each, beer accounting for 27 per cent and cider 6 per cent.

While the pandemic meant bars and restaurants were either closed or operating under restrictions for much of last year, 90 per cent of alcohol was bought in supermarkets and other stores, up from 73 per cent in 2019.

Ms Mackenzie said: “DACA services have been operating at full pelt over the last year and there’s no indication of a let-up.

“We’re supporting a broad mix of people; from long-term drinkers in crisis, to people who’ve become worried about their increased consumption over lockdown, to overwhelmed family members at their wits’ ends.

“There’s been a huge policy focus on the drugs deaths crisis in Scotland recently, and rightly so as we’re watching a national crisis play out in front of our eyes.

“But we can’t lose sight of the fact that almost a quarter of adults in our community are drinking too much.”