The number of alcohol-specific deaths registered in Scotland increased by 17% in 2020 to the highest level in more than a decade.
A total of 1,190 alcohol-specific deaths were recorded last year.
This follows a decline in the figures the previous year, with the statistics now at the highest since 2008.
Deaths which are alcohol-specific have a different definition to those which are alcohol-related – they exclude deaths which are partially attributed to alcohol.
The National Records of Scotland (NRS) figures show Glasgow city and Inverclyde had the highest rates of alcohol-specific deaths. However, these two local authority areas have also seen the biggest reduction in alcohol-specific deaths since 2004.
Public Health Minister Maree Todd said lockdown had led to people who were drinking heavily consuming even more alcohol.
She said: “I’m deeply saddened to see an increase in alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland and my heart goes out to all those affected.
“We have been making progress in this area in recent years as shown by the 10% drop in the number of deaths caused by alcohol last year.
“Unfortunately, there has been an increase across Great Britain in 2020, reflected in the provisional figures for England and Wales published earlier in the year, and today’s figures for Scotland.”
She added: “Although alcohol consumption in Scotland dropped in 2020, evidence from various surveys has shown those who were drinking heavily before the pandemic were more likely to increase their drinking during lockdown, thereby increasing their risk of harm.
“In the last year we have worked with alcohol organisations to get services back to pre-pandemic levels as quickly as possible.
“This includes additional funding to extend outreach initiatives which identify people at risk, address their immediate health concerns, and get them the support they need.”
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: “It is devastating to hear that the number of deaths linked to alcohol harm has increased in Scotland.
“This follows a similar pattern to elsewhere in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic and demonstrates the urgent need to act on this parallel health crisis.
“We cannot afford to continue ignoring the damage that alcohol is inflicting on communities around the UK.
“Though the Scottish Government has led the way with innovative alcohol harm prevention policies – like minimum unit pricing – there is still more to do to tackle alcohol harm including ensuring access to alcohol treatment for all who need it.
“This must be backed up by urgent action from the UK Government in the form of effective alcohol taxes and alcohol advertising restrictions on TV and online to protect children.
“Lives depend on it.”
Separate NRS figures released on Tuesday also showed a 1.1% decrease in annual deaths from Alzheimer’s and other dementias to 6,352.
There was also a 1.2% decrease in accidental deaths to 1.2%.
Scottish Conservative health spokeswoman Annie Wells said: “These statistics confirm fears that alcohol deaths in Scotland are following the same horrific trend as drug deaths.
“Scotland has a real problem with treating addiction that has grown far worse since the SNP came to power. It would be a grievous mistake to assume this increase is down to the pandemic alone.”
Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie said: “With deaths four times higher in the most deprived areas it is obvious that action is needed, not only to reduce alcohol-related harm and deaths, but to tackle the underlying causes of alcohol misuse.
“For too long the SNP has failed to properly resource alcohol support services.”