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Alcohol Related Deaths Increase by 20%

The long terms impact of lockdown is beginning to be felt. One of the most dramatic impacts has been an almost 20 per cent increase in the number of alcohol related deaths over the last year. This upward trend is true for every country in the UK but with very high rates in Scotland and England.

According to the Office National Statistics there were 8,974 deaths related to alcohol-specific causes registered in the UK in 2020, equivalent to 14.0 deaths per 100,000 people. That was 1,409 more deaths (a 18.6% increase) than in 2019 when there were 7,565 registered deaths, equivalent to 11.8 deaths per 100,000 people.

Consistent with previous years, the alcohol-specific death rate for males in 2020 (19.0 deaths per 100,000 males; 5,957 deaths) was around twice the rate for females (9.2 deaths per 100,000 females; 3,017 deaths). Furthermore, 96.1% of all alcohol-specific deaths registered in 2020 were caused by either:

  • alcoholic liver disease (International Classification of Diseases: ICD-10 code K70; 77.8% of alcohol-specific deaths)

  • mental and behavioural disorders due to the use of alcohol (ICD-10 code F10; 12.1% of deaths)

  • external cause of deaths, including accidental poisoning by and exposure to alcohol (ICD-10 code X45, X65, Y15; 6.2% of deaths)

The reasons for this increase is not fully developed as yet. Undoubtedly isolation, depression and boredom may have conspired during lock down to increase the salience of alcohol consumption. This seems to have occurred alongside a shift in beverage preference towards stronger forms alcohol, spirits and wine in particular.

The Office for National Statistics did use a stringent criteria in this study. This means the figures are liable to under-estimate the actual total number of deaths. To read the full report click here.

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