Latest data from NISRA, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, show that alcohol-specific deaths in Northern Ireland reached a record high in 2019.
- 336 deaths out of 15,758 registered deaths were alcohol-specific.
- This is over one third (34.95%) higher than alcohol deaths recorded a decade ago.
- Compared to 2018, this is a 18.3% increase in alcohol-specific deaths.
- There was an increase in these deaths among both men and women.
There has also been an increase in referrals to and uptake of support services – indicating the people and communities seek solutions to rising alcohol harm.
The continuing upward trajectory in alcohol-related deaths is very worrying,” said Aidan Ormsby, a senior manager at Solace Addiction Services at the ARC Healthy Living Centre in Irvinestown, as per The Impartial Reporter.
Covid hasn’t helped, but the trend was upward before Covid.”Aidan Ormsby, Senior manager, Solace Addiction Services at, ARC Healthy Living Centre, Irvinestown, Northern Ireland
The COVID-19 pandemic has really made matters worse for Northern Ireland. Use of alcohol to cope – a heavily marketed Big Alcohol message – is contributing to the deterioration of the health and well-being of people. It will also affect individuals, families and communities in the future as Northern Ireland starts recovering from the pandemic.
As Movendi International reported previously, health authorities were concerned about threats to citizen’s safety from alcohol. They released five advises to people to reduce harm from alcohol products.
Community leaders call for bigger investments, specifically in highly affected areas, to reverse the upward trend in alcohol-specific deaths. Increased investment in alcohol policy solutions such as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO)’s best buys would enable Northern Ireland to build back better from the pandemic.
In this context, it is a serious setback that Robin Swann, the Northern Ireland health minister, said he was deferring minimum unit pricing (MUP) for at least 18 months, as reported by The Times.
Cheap alcohol will therefore continue to fuel the cascading problem of alcohol-specific deaths.