Increased Alcohol Consumption During Covid Resulted in 2,500 Additional Deaths in 2022

Increased Alcohol Consumption During Covid Resulted in 2,500 Additional Deaths in 2022
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London (Parliament News) – Increased alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic led to 2,500 additional deaths in the UK in 2022, marking the highest level since records began in 2001.

Alcohol claimed a record number of people’s lives in 2022 as heavier drinking in the Covid pandemic brought its toll in the UK, official figures have indicated.

According to The Guardian, Nearly 2,500 more people passed away from drinking than in 2019 (7,565 deaths), the year before the virus struck and caused already heavy drinkers to expand their intake, the Office for National Statistics stated.

That 33% leap in deaths from alcohol represents 10,048 people who died from alcohol-specific causes – the most elevated level since records started in 2001 and a sharp increase on the pre-pandemic trend that had been constant since 2012. Scotland and Northern Ireland registered more deaths than England per capita.

Why did alcohol-specific deaths increase significantly?

“Research has suggested that people who were already drinking at high levels before the pandemic were the most likely to have increased their drinking during this period,” stated David Mais, a health statistician at the ONS. “This is likely a factor in the increase in alcohol-specific death registrations we have seen in 2022. Alcoholic liver disease was the leading cause of these deaths, and as with previous years, rates are much higher among men [around double the rate].”

In England, the north-east was the worst-affected region

What were the trends in alcohol purchasing?

As the pandemic struck and pubs and restaurants shut, people in England purchased 12.6m extra litres of alcohol from off-licences from 2020 to 2021 corresponding with 2019 to 2020. Between March 2020 and March 2021, there was also a 57% expansion in the proportion of respondents drinking at growing risk and higher risk levels, according to earlier research by Public Health England, now superseded by the UK Health Security Agency and Office for Health Improvement and Disparities.

What factors contributed to increased alcohol consumption?

No restrictions were placed on buying alcohol in the UK while nations such as South Africa, Thailand, India, Kenya and Barbados constrained sales for reasons including reducing socialising that could spread the virus and shortening hospital admissions from drink-fuelled violence.

“Each one of those deaths is a tragedy, representing a person who has had their life cut short and has left behind people who are grieving and miss them every day,” stated Dr Richard Piper, the chief executive of Alcohol Change UK. “Years of inaction on alcohol harm has led to this, and the heartbreaking thing is these deaths were avoidable. Our government has the responsibility and the power to put preventative measures in place, including proper regulation of alcohol marketing, clearer alcohol labelling, and a minimum price for a unit of alcohol.”

The number of people in therapy for alcohol in England increased only slightly – 2% – in the year to March 2023 but there are situations some people with drinking problems may not be getting help.

Piper said that from 2013–14 to 2020–21, the number of adults in England receiving treatment for problems with alcohol (and no other drugs) fell by 16%.

Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, the chair of Alcohol Health Alliance UK, stated: “Alcohol is cheaper, more available, and more heavily marketed today than ever before. As the death toll reaches record levels, so do the profits of the multibillion-pound drinks industry. There’s clear public support for policies that tackle this crisis, despite what we hear from the industry about claims of a nanny state.”

Massimiliano  Verde

Massimiliano Verde is a journalist at Parliament News, He is covering Society and Culture News. Boasting a Master's Degree in Political Science, stands as a prominent figure in the Italian cultural landscape. His presidency of the Neapolitan Academy, a scientifically and sociolinguistically renowned group, attests to his relentless dedication to safeguarding and promoting Neapolitan language and culture. His activism and profound expertise have propelled him into the role of interlocutor for UNESCO as part of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), a prestigious acknowledgment highlighting the significance of his efforts in preserving the linguistic and cultural diversity of our planet.

Verde's fervent passion for the history and culture of Southern Italy has driven him to immerse himself in research, resulting in numerous essays and articles that delve into the peculiarities and beauties of the region. His commitment extends beyond academia, manifesting in ongoing dissemination activities aimed at acquainting the general public with the rich cultural heritage of the South. His endeavors transcend national boundaries, as evidenced by his participation in international conferences and collaboration with various foreign institutions, rendering him an ambassador of Southern culture on the global stage and fostering intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding.