Fall in alcohol-related deaths welcome but more action needed, says Swanswell

29 January 2013

New figures showing a fall in alcohol-related deaths in the UK are a step in the right direction but Swanswell believes it still shows more action’s needed to change society’s drinking habits.

The national recovery charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to the latest figures (2011) released today (29 January 2013), as part of an update from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

According to the bulletin, there were 8,748 alcohol-related deaths in the UK – 42 fewer than in 2010 (8,790).

It also found that males aged 30 and over were significantly more likely than females to die of alcohol-related causes. Around two thirds (over 66%) of all alcohol-related deaths in the UK during 2011 were men.

In addition, the ONS report says age-specific alcohol-related death rates were highest for those aged between 55 to 59 and lowest for those under 30.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘While it’s encouraging that the number of alcohol-related deaths are falling, the number of deaths caused by drinking are still too high – even one death is one too many.

Alcohol-related deaths and illnesses are entirely preventable, yet people often ignore the risks or aren’t aware of the damage that drinking regularly or to excess can cause.

Many alcohol-related conditions – such as alcoholic liver disease, alcohol dementia or pancreatitis - develop over long periods of time, so people just don’t realise the damage that is being done, until it’s too late.

Although it’s not mentioned in this report, alcohol can also play a major part in accidents - almost 300 people a year are killed because of drink-driving (Rospa) for example and alcohol can be a major factor in domestic abuse cases.

There’s also a lot of mixed messaging around alcohol – one day we’re told small amounts of alcohol could help prevent heart disease (BBC News), while on others we’re told there is no safe level of alcohol consumption (Guardian).

While the government is taking steps to introduce new policies such as minimum pricing and a ban on multi-buy deals, those measures alone won’t work – the product itself and where it is placed for sale should be considered alongside.

Better education and clearer information about the risks of alcohol misuse should also be tied in, so people can make their own informed decisions about how much they are drinking or even if they want to drink at all.

Ultimately, tackling alcohol misuse is everyone’s responsibility – it’s not something any single government, organisation or individual can do on their own, we all have a part to play.’

Worried about alcohol use? Take a look at our Alcohol information pages for more details.

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