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8 December 2021

With You comments on highest alcohol-related deaths since 2001

Today the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released new data showing 2020 had the highest year-on-year increase in alcohol-related deaths since data series began in 2001.

In 2020, there were 8,974 deaths (14.0 per 100,000 people) from alcohol-specific causes registered in the UK, an 18.6% increase compared with 2019 (7,565 deaths; 11.8 per 100,000 people). Between 2012 and 2019, rates of alcohol-specific deaths in the UK have remained stable, with a significant increase seen in 2020.

Commenting on the new data, Jon Murray, Executive Director of Services at Drug, Alcohol and Mental Health Charity With You, said:

“Today’s new data show the tragic impact of what happens when people who need help with alcohol aren’t accessing treatment or support.

“While no reason alone will explain this extremely worrying trend, the financial pressures and social isolation caused by lockdown, including increased difficulty accessing treatment services make for a perfect storm when it comes to harmful drinking. With health services in overdrive fighting the pandemic and the backlog it’s caused, some people might also be hesitant to seek help worrying about placing extra strain on the system.

“Older adults continue to be a vulnerable group when it comes to harmful drinking habits, highlighting the importance of tailoring services to the needs of this group in particular or risk jeopardising their engagement. Previous research released by With You showed that at the end of last year more than one in two over 50s were drinking at a level that could cause health problems now or in the future, with nearly one in four classed as high risk or possibly dependent.