Alcohol-specific deaths up almost 20 per cent

The number of deaths from alcohol-specific causes rose to 8,974 in 2020, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – 18.6 per cent up on the previous year, and the highest year-on-year increase in two decades. 

Sir Ian Gilmore
Alcohol Health Alliance chair Professor Sir Ian Gilmore said the figures hide many more deaths where alcohol is a major contributory factor.

The statistics only include deaths where the cause was a ‘direct consequence’ of alcohol misuse – almost 78 per cent were the result of alcoholic liver disease, with the remainder including alcohol poisoning and ‘mental and behavioural disorders due to the use of alcohol’. Rates of alcohol-specific deaths in the UK had remained stable between 2012 and 2019, says ONS, before the latest ‘statistically significant’ increase. As in previous years the death rate for men was almost double that for women, with the biggest overall increases seen in England and Scotland. The North East of England had the highest death rate for the seventh year in a row. 

‘The annual number of alcohol-specific deaths released today, twice as many as drug-related deaths, hide many more where alcohol is a major contributory factor, such as deaths from cancers and strokes,’ said Alcohol Health Alliance chair Professor Sir Ian Gilmore. ‘We applaud government action on illicit drugs but fail to understand their complacency on this other drug of dependence, alcohol.

‘The ONS figures highlight that our poorest communities suffer most from alcohol harm, and so if our prime minister is serious about “levelling up” he must back the robust plans for drugs with an alcohol strategy that seeks to turn this tragic trend around. The strategy must include policies to stop the sale of cheap, strong alcohol that is so harmful to health, reduce the availability of alcohol and restrict its marketing. Importantly, we also need to make sure that support is available to those who need it now.’

We value your input. Please leave a comment, you do not need an account to do this but comments will be moderated before they are displayed...