A record number of people in Britain died from drinking alcohol last year — with experts saying that rise is most likely due to Covid lockdowns.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported earlier this month that a record number of people died from excessive alcohol consumption, with 9,641 deaths in the UK in 2021, up from 7,565 in 2019 — a 27 per cent increase.
In its report, the ONS says people who were heavy drinkers before Covid lockdowns drank more in the Covid years. The charity Drinkaware said the statistics were “devastating” and “unacceptable”.
The charity is now calling for a new co-ordinated UK-wide alcohol strategy to limit the damage from alcohol to society and public services across the U.K.
Men were twice as likely as women to die from alcohol — as was the case with previous years.
James Tucker, from the Office of National Statistics, commenting on the recent figures, said:
“Research has suggested that people who were already drinking at higher levels before the pandemic were the most likely to have increased their alcohol consumption during this period”.
In the seven years leading up to 2019, rates of death due to alcohol in the UK had remained relatively stable, before going up in 2010 and 2021.
Karen Tyrell,, from Drinkaware,said it was unacceptable to see such high rates of alcohol related deaths in a developed nation.
“These statistics are absolutely devastating, each number masking an individual family tragedy,” she said.
“It is unacceptable that in one of the richest countries in the world, the rate of alcohol-related deaths was four times higher among men in the poorest areas compared to the most affluent”.
She said that the pandemic meant warning signs of the heaviest drinkers consuming more alcohol were missed because people were less able to access support.
In July 2022, NHS funded findings predicted that up to 25,000 more people than usual could die over the next 20 years as a result of heavy drinking habits that began during the Covid lockdowns. The two studies indicated that such a situation could result in almost one million more hospital admissions, and end up dieting the NHS more than £5 billion.Lockdowns contributed to record number of alcohol related deaths – Gript