Pandemic sparks rise in alcohol-related deaths

Alcohol-related deaths in the North East rose during the coronavirus pandemic.

Alcohol-related deaths increase.
Alcohol-related deaths increase.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that, in 2021, a total of 541 people died from directly from alcohol-specific causes – up from 437 in 2019 and the highest number since records began in 2001.

That means 20.4 per 100,000 people in the region died due to alcohol in 2021.

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The data shows, nationally, there were 7,600 alcohol-specific deaths in 2021 – a 30% increase on 2019, the last full year before the pandemic.

Separate figures from the Office for Health and Improvement Disparities figures show premature deaths from alcohol-related conditions led to a potential 3,395 years of life being lost in Sunderland in 2020.

The ONS said: "Alcohol-specific deaths have risen sharply since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with alcoholic liver disease the leading cause of these deaths.

"This rise is likely to be the result of increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic."

Alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware said the statistics are "devastating" and urged the Government to create a nationwide alcohol strategy.

Karen Tyrell, chief executive of Drinkaware, said: "These statistics are absolutely devastating, each number masking an individual family tragedy.

"We also know that the heaviest drinkers drank more during the pandemic, and warning signs were missed as people saw each other less and were less able to access support.

"This created a perfect storm and we are now seeing the consequences."

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The Department for Health and Social care said it has invested £93m in drug and alcohol misuse treatment and services in England and increase the availability of inpatient detoxification beds.