Health boards across Scotland are to share £36m to help tackle the country’s “drinking culture”, health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
She said the money would fund action aimed at encouraging people to curb their alcohol consumption before it causes lasting damage to their health.
When spending the cash, health boards should prioritise “brief interventions” - where medical staff talk to someone about their drinking if they think it may be an underlying reason for their visit to hospital or their GP.
The money, from the Scottish government for 2010-11, will also allow investment in developing and maintaining alcohol prevention, treatment and support services.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It’s vital that we tackle Scotland’s drinking culture - too many people are drinking too much, too often and although they may not realise it, it’s having a detrimental effect on their health.
“This funding will allow boards to continue their work to help people address their drinking before they cause lasting health damage.”
Health staff started using brief interventions two years ago as part of a screening programme for alcohol problems and Ms Sturgeon said they were both clinically effective and cost effective.
Ms Sturgeon added: “By intervening early, we can maximise resources and - more importantly - save lives.
“The cost of excessive drinking is too high - both in financial and health terms - which is why it’s so important that we invest this money now in a healthy future for Scotland.”