UK alcohol deaths at highest ever level

There were just over 10,000 deaths from alcohol specific causes registered in the UK in 2022, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – the highest number on record.

The 10,048 figure was just over 4 per cent up on the previous year, but almost 33 per cent higher than in 2019 – the last pre-COVID year. Rates of alcohol-specific deaths had remained broadly stable between 2012 and 2019, ONS points out.

Death rates for both men and women have increased.

Alcohol-specific death rates only include deaths from causes ‘wholly attributable’ to alcohol, such as alcoholic liver disease. ‘It does not include all deaths that can be attributed to alcohol,’ ONS points out, such as heart disease and various cancers. The figures are based on the deaths registered in each calendar year, rather than the actual date of death.

As in previous years the highest rate of alcohol-specific deaths in England was in the North East, at 21.8 deaths per 100,000 people. Scotland and Northern Ireland had the highest country rates, at 22.6 and 19.5 per 100,000 respectively. Compared to 2019 there have been ‘statistically significant increases in the alcohol-specific death rate in England, Wales and Scotland’, ONS points out. Again, as in previous years, the overall alcohol-specific death rate for men was twice that for women. However, the death rate for women also increased by almost 6 per cent between 2021 and 2022.

The Alcohol Health Alliance, a coalition of more than 60 organisations, has issued a call for mandatory health labelling on alcohol, a commitment to long-term funding of early intervention and treatment, tougher marketing regulations and the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP).

Prof Sir Ian Gilmore: ‘a public health crisis’

‘We are in the midst of a public health crisis and the lack of government action to prevent the lives lost and resulting devastation for families, friends and communities is a shameful failure in public policy,’ said alliance chair Professor Sir Ian Gilmore. ‘Despite what we are often told by the alcohol industry, the evidence shows it’s a complete myth that this is a problem for only a small minority. As the death toll reaches record levels, so do the profits of the multi-billion-pound drinks industry. With the NHS already under severe pressure, we cannot continue on the current trajectory. The warning sirens are ringing, and whichever party forms the government at the next election must prepare to step up with a comprehensive alcohol strategy. This must include restrictions on marketing, availability and pricing – all of which are proven to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.’

Dr Katherine Severi: ‘How many more deaths are needed?’

‘Year after year now we have seen tragic increases in deaths from alcohol, which disproportionately affect the most deprived communities in our country,’ added chief executive of the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS), Dr Katherine Severi. ‘The rise has also been especially high among women, with 37 per cent more than in 2019. How many more deaths are needed before the UK government wakes up?’

Alcohol-specific deaths in the UK: registered in 2022 available here 



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...