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Alcohol-specific deaths rise to record high

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Yesterday saw the publication of the latest statistics for alcohol-specific deaths in the UK. These cover deaths which are directly attributed to alcohol consumption (mainly liver disease), which constitute around a third of all alcohol-related deaths.

Following the drug-related death figures of August they bring more sad and worrying news. 2021 saw 9,641 people die from alcohol-specific causes which constitutes the highest number on record and an increase of 7.4% from the year before.

Most worryingly the current figures are a huge 27.4% higher than 2019, the last year before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The Office for National Statistics statistician commented “The rise is likely to be the result of increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic. Research has suggested that people who were already drinking at higher levels before the pandemic were the most likely to have increased their alcohol consumption during this period.”

Well established patterns in the data have continued with twice the amount of men dying as women and deaths correlating strongly with poverty within the UK.

Collective Voice Director Oliver Standing said: “The 2021 figures should worry us all, confirming as they do the continued increase in alcohol-specific deaths and a sharp increase on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. The harmful effects of isolation and the strain on our mental health and wellbeing affected us all during lockdowns, and for those struggling with alcohol use it has had a huge detrimental effect on mental and physical health. Treatment and recovery services will continue to work hard to meet the needs of people using alcohol, but we urge government to also play its part and raise its ambitions on alcohol use to the standards it has set itself on drug use.

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Collective Voice is the national charity working to improve England’s drug and alcohol treatment and recovery systems