Alcohol-related deaths reach record high during COVID-19 pandemic
Provisional data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows there were 5,460 deaths related to alcohol-specific causes registered in the first three quarters of 2020 in England and Wales. This is a 16.4% increase in alcohol-specific deaths in comparison with the same 9-month period in 2019, it marks the highest recorded alcohol-specific death rate since this data collection began in 2001. AHA Chair Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, said: ‘Although it will take time to understand the causes for this dramatic increase, the government must act quickly on the known drivers of the nation’s drinking to prevent future harm.’
The EU Cancer Plan shows promising measures for alcohol policy
Stakeholders in the health sector have welcomed the long-awaited Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, heralded as a ‘new era for cancer care and cancer patients’. The plan sets out a new EU approach to cancer prevention, treatment and care – including several policy measures to address alcohol harm.
Highlights include mandatory calorie and ingredients labelling by the end of 2022, health warnings to be proposed by the end of 2023, a review of EU tax structures and an aim to reduce online marketing.
Lockdown drinking prompts urgent calls for government action on alcohol harm
The number of people who drink at levels that suggest alcohol dependence – that’s the equivalent of over a litre of spirits, over five bottles of wine or 25 pints of beer a week – increased from 1.5 million to 2.5 million between September and December last year.
In a blog for the AHA, Dr Tony Rao, who has been tracking data on drinking patterns in lockdown, argues that now is the time for the government to introduce an alcohol strategy, with harm reduction at its core.
Report finds that current drink-drive limit is not enough to deter motorists from drink-driving
A report by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety has suggested that legal drink-driving limits should be cut to zero for young drivers and those who drive for a living, and be cut by at least a third for everyone else in England and Wales. This is in response to findings that current restrictions are failing to stop drink-driving, with 17% of drink-driving offences committed by reoffenders.
Meanwhile, the report shows that drink-driving is one of the leading causes of road deaths (13%) with an average of 240 people being killed each year when a driver was over the limit.
Alongside reducing the drink-drive limit, the report calls for a review of policy on drink-driving, better consideration of mental health issues and changes in police and law enforcement.
Balance launches next phase of its ‘Alcohol – not the answer’ campaign
Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, launched their Alcohol – not the answer campaign in November 2020 as a response to concerns about rising levels of alcohol consumption during COVID-19, especially among people who were already drinking heavily. Not the answer raised awareness of alcohol’s links to anxiety, cancer, heart disease and stroke and also the warning from the World Health Organization that alcohol weakens the immune system and reduces the ability to cope with infectious diseases such as COVID-19.
An independent survey of over 600 people found that nearly half of people in the NE and North Cumbria saw the campaign, while 50% of increasing and higher risk drinkers who saw it felt like they should cut down. 21% of drinkers said they cut down how often they drank and 19% cut down on how much they drink as a result.
Scottish Families Alcohol Action Group have designed a survey to get a better idea of how widely spread alcohol messages are in our homes, communities, online spaces and other parts of everyday life. They are asking you to set aside a day and time to make a note of where alcohol is present in your day.
You might take note of adverts, discarded litter, branded merchandise or talk of alcohol via memes or discussions on social media. You can use this survey to submit a note of what you discovered and where alcohol is seen during this time. It should only take you 10 minutes to feedback your experience and findings below.
Introducing the SALIS Collection: a digital archive of alcohol, tobacco and other drug books and documents. It includes key seminal, full-text books, reports, documents, and other literature and is international in its scope, and covers a wide number of disciplines. SALIS (Substance Abuse Librarians and Information Specialists) are responsible for developing the collection in partnership with the Internet Archive.
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics
14–20 February 2021
Find out more
Alcohol Occasionals – Men’s alcohol consumption when becoming a father
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems
25 February 2021
Reporting of Substance: A discussion on developing media guidelines
Adfam, Scottish Recovery Consortium & Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs
11 March 2021
Managing drug and alcohol problems in primary care conference 2021
Royal College of General Practitioners & Substance Misuse Management in General Practice
25–26 March 2021, online
Alcohol Occasionals – Alcohol-related violence and deprivation
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems
30 March 2021