The number of deaths linked to alcohol in 2020 was the highest since 2001, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.
According to the data, there were 7423 alcohol-specific deaths last year – a rise of 20% from 2019. There were 1963 alcohol-specific deaths registered in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) of 2020, and with an age-standardised rate of 13.6 deaths per 100,000 people, this was the highest rate for any quarter in almost two decades.
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‘It is devastating to hear that the number of deaths linked to alcohol has increased so dramatically in the last year,’ said Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance.
‘Each of these numbers represents a life of an individual cut short by alcohol consumption and a family that has been left in mourning. The future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on addiction and mental health makes action now all the more critical.’
Around 80% of those deaths were from alcoholic liver disease, 10% from mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol use and 6% from accidental poisoning by exposure to alcohol. In England, men living in the most deprived areas were four times more likely to die from alcohol than men living in the most affluent areas.
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‘If the UK Government wants to demonstrate its commitment to turning this tragic trend around, it must urgently introduce an alcohol strategy which seeks to address health inequalities and stop the sale of cheap, strong alcohol that is so harmful to health,’ added Professor Sir Ian.
‘The Government also needs to improve access to treatment for those who need it. We cannot afford to ignore the growing alcohol harm crisis – lives depend on action being taken now.’