Pandemic excess drinking costs 55 lives

Pandemic excess alcohol use warningPandemic excess alcohol use warning
Pandemic excess alcohol use warning
Alcohol consumption caused the death of over 55 people in Northumberland during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

The 55 people in the area who died from alcohol-specific causes were among 6,985 nationally, according to Public Health England data – as deaths directly caused by excess drinking soared by a record 20%.

The figure for Northumberland is seven more than was recorded in 2019.

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Dr Richard Piper, chief executive of Alcohol Change UK, said as many as one in four people drank more in 2020, with some picking up habits that could prove hard to break.

He said: "For many people, the pandemic and the restrictions placed on our daily lives led to an increase in drinking and the harm caused by alcohol goes beyond this avoidable loss of life.

"Millions more suffer from worsened mental and physical health every day as a result of harmful drinking."

The figures suggest 13 in every 100,000 people in England died solely because of alcohol abuse last year – the rate in Northumberland was higher, at 15.

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Annabelle Bonus, Drinkaware's director for evidence and impact, fears damaging drinking habits picked up during periods of lockdown may have become ingrained.

She said: "To prevent more lives being destroyed and help address inequalities, the Government must place alcohol harm reduction at the centre of public health priorities."

A spokesman for the Department for Health and Social care said alcohol misuse could have a tragic impact and said the Government is committed to supporting those at risk.