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'Tragic' figures show alcohol deaths reaching all time high; Ulster second in numbers for UK.

Byline: IAN JONES and MAURICE FITZMAURICE

DEATHS caused directly by alcohol hit a new high in 2020 - with Northern Ireland showing the second highest rate in the UK.

The Office for National Statistics figures show the deaths have gone through the biggest year-on-year increase since records began.

A total of 8,974 fatalities related to alcohol-specific causes were registered in the UK last year, or 14.0 deaths per 100,000 people. In Northern Ireland the rate is 19.6 per 100,000.

The UK rate is up 18.6% on the 7,565 deaths registered in 2019, or 11.8 per 100,000.

The figures were described as "tragic" by Matt Lambert, chief execu- tive officer of the Portman Group, the social responsibility and regulatory body for alcohol in the UK.

Mr Lambert said: "The reasons for this increase in deaths are complex.

"It may be that the pressures on people and services caused by the pandemic have exacerbated problems for those needing help.

"It is highly welcome that the Government has committed to a sizeable increase in funding that will support treatment for those drinking alcohol to harmful levels."

The rise was described as "statistically significant" by the ONS, which published the figures. It added that there will be "many factors" behind the increase and "it may be some time before we fully understand all of these".

People have drinking more home michael impact of

In Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency's drugs and alcohol lead Michael Owen said: "Alcohol plays a part in many people's lives and one of the most important things is that many people don't realise that alcohol is a powerful drug. Whether it's having a glass of wine with dinner, a beer after work, or having a drink at social and cultural events, alcohol makes an appearance in so many parts of our lives and society that it can be easy to forget that, like many drugs, it can be addictive, both physically and psychologically.

been at owen on the pandemic "Throughout the pandemic, people have been drinking more at home where it can be all too easy to pour that little bit extra or go to the fridge for 'just one more' drink and we can forget about the impact on our lives."

newsni@mirror.co.uk

People have been drinking more at home MICHAEL OWEN on the impact of pandemic

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Author:IAN JONES and MAURICE FITZMAURICE
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 8, 2021
Words:387
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