Alcohol deaths in England, Wales, hit 20-year high last year

New British government figures show that alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales jumped by a fifth in 2020 to reach their highest level in two decades

LONDON -- Alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales jumped by a fifth last year to reach their highest level in two decades, new government figures showed Thursday.

The Office for National Statistics said there were 7,423 deaths attributed to alcohol misuse in 2020, a 19.6% increase from the year before. It said the majority were due to chronic conditions, such as alcohol-related liver disease.

The provisional data showed that alcohol-specific deaths among men were 4.2 times higher in the poorest areas of Wales and England than in the most affluent areas.

The statistics office said complex factors contributed to the rise in deaths and that it may be some time before the causes are fully understood. It said, however, that it was clear high-risk drinkers increased their alcohol consumption during the pandemic.

“Last year, there was a reduction in emergency presentations and admissions across the board, and addiction treatment data also showed fewer new clients starting treatment last summer,” Boniface said.