According to revelations this Thursday from the National Bureau of Statistics (ONS), the annual death toll from alcohol has reached a record high in 2020 in England and Wales.
The ONS noted a very significant increase in this figure from March, the month from which the first confinement began.
In the year, 7,423 people lost their lives as a result of excessive alcohol consumption, an increase of about 20% from the previous year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
It is also the highest annual number of deaths ever recorded since the organization recorded them, that is to say since 2001.
The ONS explains that the alcohol death rate between January and March 2020 was "statistically similar to previous years".
However, "the rates for the second quarter, third quarter and fourth quarter of 2020 were significantly higher than those of all other years."
Lack of "access to care"
According to the analysis of Sadie Boniface, research director at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, "the ONS indicates that this increase coincides with the onset of the pandemic", as well as with a series of three lockdowns, the first of which was decreed by the British government on March 23, 2020.
Most of the deaths reported by the ONS are linked to long-term addiction problems: 80% were due to liver disease triggered by alcohol, while only 10% were caused by dangerous behaviors or mental states alcohol-related and 6% to alcohol poisoning.
“This means that the increase is not explained by the fact that people who previously drank at lower risk levels increased their consumption during the pandemic,” reports Sadie Boniface.
For her, the causes of this "alarming" finding should rather be sought on the side of the increase in consumption among people who already drank heavily, but also the lack of "access to care".
"For example, liver disease is often an emergency, but people may have been afraid to go to the emergency room because of the virus," she adds.
Nevertheless, the research director invites to closely monitor the evolution of people who started drinking during the pandemic, affirming that "the consequences on health of these important changes in the habits of alcohol consumption remain largely to be determined. ".