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2 February 2021

With You responds to new ONS stats showing alcohol related deaths rose to record levels in 2020

The ONS today released new provisional statistics showing deaths caused by alcohol hit a new high during the first nine months of 2020. The headline statistics are as follows:

  • Provisional data for England and Wales show there were 5,460 deaths related to alcohol-specific causes registered in the first three quarters of 2020 (Jan to Sept), a 16.4% increase compared with the same nine-month period in 2019.
  • When comparing the same quarter across the years, the rate in Quarter 1 2020 was statistically similar to rates in previous years, however, rates in Quarter 2 and Quarter 3 2020 were statistically significantly higher than in any other year back to 2001.
  • Compared with the same period in 2019, rates were statistically significantly higher for persons aged 30 to 49 years in Quarter 2 2020 and for persons aged 40 to 69 years in Quarter 3 2020.

Julie Breslin, Head of the Drink Wise, Age Well programme at drug, alcohol and mental health charity With You (We Are With You) said:

“The number of people in treatment for an alcohol issue has fallen by nearly one fifth since 2013/14. At the same time we know that around four out of five dependent drinkers aren’t accessing any kind of support. Sadly, these statistics show the impact of what happens when the majority of people with an issue with alcohol aren’t accessing treatment or support, especially in a country with such a heavy drinking culture as the UK. Our thoughts are with all those affected.

“While it’s hard to pin-point the exact reasons behind the rise, front-line services have seen how the social isolation and anxiety of living through a pandemic has led to an increase in potentially harmful drinking. At the same time people are understandably concerned about placing extra strain on health services at the current time, with many struggling alone.

“This picture is particularly acute for older adults, with people aged between 55 and 64 years old most likely to die of an alcohol-related cause. Many are unable to see their loved ones or friends, and are drinking more as a way to cope with increased loneliness, isolation and anxiety. Our research 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.

“We know that people aged over 50 are most likely to reach out to a service that’s specifically aimed at them. That’s why we recently launched a dedicated helpline to provide alcohol-related advice and support to this group. To anyone 50 or over who’s concerned about their drinking, give us a call for free on 0808 8010750. You’ll speak confidentially to someone who understands what you’re going through and can support you to make healthier choices that will benefit all parts of your life.”