The number of annual alcohol-specific deaths in Northern Ireland has reached the highest level on record, with over 350 deaths in 2020 according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra).
This is the largest number of deaths due to alcohol recorded in Northern Ireland since the data series began more than 20 years ago.
It was found:
- The total number of alcohol-specific deaths registered in 2020 was 351. This was an increase of 15 from the previous year (336) and the highest since the start of the series, accounting for 2.0% of all deaths registered in 2020.
- Almost two-thirds (66.4%) of the 351 deaths were male, and just over one third (33.6%) were female. Similarly, the age standardised mortality rate per 100,000 population of alcohol-specific deaths for males was twice that of the rate for females (24.9 and 12.3 respectively).
- Alcohol-specific deaths continue to be more prevalent among the 45-54 and 55-64 age groups, which together accounted for 64.7% of all alcohol-specific deaths registered in 2020.
These data reflect a worrying trend across the whole of the UK.
In England and Wales, there were 7,423 alcohol-specific deaths last year – a rise of 20% from 2019, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
In Scotland, the number of alcohol-specific deaths increased by 17% to 1,190 in 2020, up from 1,020 in 2019, according to statistics on deaths by various causes published today by National Records of Scotland.
Speaking about the rise in the number of deaths linked to alcohol across the whole of the UK, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said:
“It is devastating to hear that the number of deaths linked to alcohol has increased so dramatically in the last year. Each of these numbers represents a life of an individual cut short by alcohol consumption and a family that has been left in mourning. The future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on addiction and mental health makes action now all the more critical.
“If the UK Government wants to demonstrate its commitment to turning this tragic trend around, it must urgently introduce an alcohol strategy which seeks to address health inequalities and stop the sale of cheap, strong alcohol that is so harmful to health. The Government also needs to improve access to treatment for those who need it. We cannot afford to ignore the growing alcohol harm crisis – lives depend on action being taken now.”