What to Do About Predicted Rise in Alcohol Deaths?

New reports reveal grim predictions about alcohol-related deaths in England. Recent reports by the Institute of Alcohol Studies and another by the University of Sheffield predict that alcohol-related deaths in England might rise from 1,830 to 25,000 in the next 20 years. The news comes as a “wake-up call” to many families, mental health and substance abuse professionals, and those suffering from alcohol use disorder. It’s essential for families of loved ones addicted to alcohol to encourage loved ones to seek help for their addiction.

Prevalence of Alcohol Use in England

England is no stranger to the effects of alcohol use disorder and increased alcohol consumption. With alcohol widely available and easy to access, it’s become more and more of an issue for people struggling with the effects of the pandemic to stop drinking. Unfortunately, alcohol is much cheaper and easy to access, with even those in the most impoverished communities able to access alcohol, such as wine and litres of vodka. The Office for National Statistics reported that in 2020, there were 8,974 deaths from alcohol-specific causes registered in the UK. These deaths are an 18.6% increase compared with 2019, and it is also the highest year-on-year increase since the data was taken in 2001. Deaths can be attributed to physical issues related to alcohol abuse, such as:

  • Liver failure
  • Alcohol-induced pseudo Cushing’s syndrome
  • Mental and behavioural disorders due to the use of alcohol
  • Degeneration of the nervous system due to alcohol
  • Alcoholic polyneuropathy
  • Alcoholic myopathy
  • Excess alcohol blood levels
  • Accidental poisoning by and exposure to alcohol
  • Intentional self-poisoning by and exposure to alcohol

In addition to the staggering number of deaths related to alcohol, the new simulated study commissioned for the NHS found an increase in high-risk drinkers. Those already drinking heavily were also found to have increased their consumption of alcohol. Unfortunately, the study reported that even in the best-case scenario, where people return to drinking pre-pandemic levels, deaths will still number at least 1,830 in 20 years.

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Why Did the Pandemic Worsen Drinking in England?

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the worst disasters to befall the globe, and it led to disastrous consequences in England as well. Around 204,000 people have died due to the pandemic, with many more suffering from the effects of losing loved ones, long-term COVID symptoms, and other issues related to the pandemic, such as job loss.

While alcohol use affects everyone differently, there are certain contributing factors from the pandemic that could have played into widespread drinking in England. Some of these issues include:

  • Increased time indoors due to lockdowns
  • Increased dependence on substances to help with boredom
  • More time spent alone with mental illness/damaging thoughts, therefore more alcohol to cope
  • The continued availability of alcohol

In addition, the lack of healthcare might have also contributed to worsening alcohol use and substance abuse in the UK. While many medical facilities were fighting to keep hospitals open for COVID patients and also working to provide life-saving care for patients affected by the virus, experts believe these protocols might have inadvertently led to increased substance use. For instance, opioid use also increased during the pandemic, correlating to the lack of accessibility to healthcare and the shift in provider concerns to COVID patients, according to some studies.

Centres such as the Provicence Project help provide much needed residential treatment for those who are struggling with an addiction even during these testing times. While employers and healthcare facilities are struggling to cope with the ongoing changes, we are dedicated to helping you and your loved ones heal. Contact our admissions team today to learn more about our residential programme and the detox options available for those with a physical dependence to a substance.

Who Was Impacted More by Increased Alcohol Use?

The pandemic did not affect everyone’s drinking equally. A study by Newcastle University found the heaviest drinkers bought about 17 times more alcohol than light drinkers, suggesting that the pandemic worsened existing alcohol use rather than leading to new onset of addiction. Unfortunately, this same study also found that those living in poorer areas of the country, such as Northern England, spent more on alcohol during the pandemic than those living in higher-income areas. Lack of access to healthcare and addiction resources lowered income levels, and increased stress from the pandemic could all have been attributed to the increase in alcohol use.

What You Can Do to Help Loved One with Alcohol Addiction?

Deaths from alcohol use disorder are attributed to both long-term and short-term consequences, including liver failure after continued use and acute intoxication (alcohol poisoning). Therefore, loved ones must be prepared to help those struggling with addiction by providing acute treatment and continued dependence follow-up care. Below are some steps to help your loved one stop using alcohol and help potentially save their life.

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Consider Medical Detoxification

To help your loved one stop drinking as soon as possible, it’s best to explore medical detoxification services in the UK. Medical detox can help people stop drinking alcohol by slowly weaning them off the substance. While medical detox is an extra step in addiction treatment, it is imperative since the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Shakiness
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Delirium Tremens, or hallucinations

These symptoms should be handled as soon as possible, and it’s best to consider medical detox under the care of a professional.

Find Treatment Resources

It’s essential to find the right resources for your loved one’s needs, as not all addiction treatment facilities are created equal. For instance, some might only offer inpatient care, while others provide inpatient and outpatient services. It’s best to explore all options to ensure you make the best decision for your loved one’s health.

Final Thoughts

In addition to finding the proper medical resources, it’s crucial to provide emotional support for your loved one during this difficult time. This includes understanding and patience, as addiction is a severe mental illness. It might be challenging to see your loved one going through such struggles, but remember that addiction is not a choice. Showing compassion and offering support can go a long way in helping your loved one on their road to recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, don’t hesitate to seek help. Resources such as our addiction treatment centre can help save a life and help your loved one recover and heal from AUD.