DEATHS due to booze rose 20 per cent during the pandemic, new data has revealed.
Brits turned to alcohol to get through the punishing lockdowns, with it having a damaging effect.
Public Health England have reported an "unprecedented" increase in 2020 for alcoholic liver disease deaths.
Fatalities linked to liver damage and booze accounted for just over 80.3 per cent of all deaths last year.
Despite pubs, clubs and restaurants being closed for around 31 weeks in the lockdowns, alcohol sale levels were still at similar levels to pre-pandemic.
This suggests people were drinking more than they might have usually while at home.
Rosanna O’ Connor, Director of Drugs, Alcohol, Tobacco and Justice at Public Health England said: “Our research suggests that lockdown has affected heavy drinkers the most and that they are drinking more.
“Liver disease is currently the second leading cause of premature death in people of working age and this is only set to get worse if the Covid pandemic results in a long-term increase in drinking.
“Tackling harmful drinking must be an essential part of the Covid recovery plan.
“If you’re worried about your drinking speak with your GP or get in touch with your local alcohol services.”
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And Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: “Rising alcohol harm has been a devastating consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Increased drinking among some of the population, rising hospital admissions for liver disease and the highest level of deaths caused directly by alcohol since records began are cause for serious alarm.
"Tackling alcohol harm must be central to the Covid-19 recovery plan if we are to curb this growing health crisis.
“We are concerned about the increase in the consumption of wine and spirits over the last year. Cheap, strong drinks are linked to the highest harms.
"The ongoing alcohol duty review is an opportunity for the Treasury to ensure that stronger drinks, like spirits, always cost more than weaker drinks, in order to decrease consumption and protect our health.”
What are the signs you are drinking too much?
7 signs you're boozing too much… and how to stop
WARNING BELLS INCLUDE:
- Opening a bottle or can earlier in the day than you usually would.
- Finding it hard to stop at one or two drinks.
- Drinking out of boredom.
- Experiencing anxiety or depression, and drinking to cope.
- Feeling the need to drink more each time to get the same feeling.
- Finding the quality of your sleep, mood and productivity has declined.
- Experiencing sweating, shaking or nausea, which could all be symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (it is important to get professional medical advice or support if dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Stopping drinking completely can be dangerous to your health).
Pamela Healy OBE, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, said: “These findings are very concerning but, sadly, they mirror what we have been hearing on our Helpline throughout the pandemic.
"Stress, loneliness and the lack of access to alcohol support services have resulted in many people drinking more alcohol and putting their livers at risk.
"Alarmingly, these new statistics show that those who come from the most deprived areas of the country are also disproportionately affected.
“Covid-19 restrictions may have eased but now we’re starting to see the long-term effects of the pandemic in other areas of public health."
For more information, see drinkaware.co.uk
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