The number of alcohol-related illnesses has increased by 27% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A study based on data from the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of people who died directly due to the effects of alcohol, including liver disease, rose to 9,641 in 2021 from 7,565 in 2019.
The Oxford University scientists Prof Carl Heneghan and Dr Tom Jefferson, who conducted the analysis, linked the tightening of lockdowns to cutbacks in healthcare services for non-COVID-19 related illnesses.
They fear the upward trend will continue, Professor Heneghan said: “It is sometimes difficult to separate the effects of Covid from the effects of lockdown measures.”
“In this case, everything is clear. These are alcohol-related deaths, which means that at least 27.4 percent more of our fellow citizens drank themselves due to the imposition of restrictions on individual freedom.”
“Males die more often—twice as often as females. Mental disorders and incidents of accidental poisoning were present but played little role in the count. Most of the deaths were hard drinkers who took refuge by increasing their daily consumption.”
Dr Tom Jefferson, a senior fellow at the University of Oxford, added: “No other explanation for the rate of this growth is possible, because alcohol disease is the result of years of abuse and abnormal lifestyle.”
“Alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver does not develop overnight — it usually develops after drinking alcohol for ten years or more. Many of these people were at the critical stage of an alcohol-related illness, and with the closure of alcohol treatment services and the reduction of GP services, people were not getting the care they needed. Many were also vulnerable and lived alone, and it is likely that their addiction to alcohol was exacerbated by being alone in isolation. The numbers reflect changes in drinking habits as many people drink more. This is just the beginning. The party is over, the hangover will last a very long time. This is yet another documented consequence of the social and democratic catastrophe of self-isolation.”
He added: “Now we need to ensure the support of all people with alcohol addiction. We also need to make sure we don’t impose restrictions and lockdowns that focus on just one disease, as was the case with covid, because that means devastating consequences for the other major health issues we’re seeing right now.”
The scientists say the numbers likely understate the problem because they do not include deaths that could be caused by alcohol, such as long-term illnesses including cancer or heart disease, as the ONS data only refers to deaths that were “a direct consequence.” alcohol.”
The ONS report shows that as of March 2022, “increased drinking and higher risk of drinking” remained elevated and issued a stark warning that the effects of increased alcohol exposure and lifestyle changes during lockdown will take time to fully express yourself.
It states: “Alcohol-related deaths have increased dramatically since the start of the covid pandemic, with alcoholic liver disease being the leading cause of these deaths. Studies have shown that people who already drank heavily before the pandemic were the most likely to increase their alcohol consumption during this period.
“If these consumption patterns continue, there could be hundreds of thousands of additional cases of alcohol-related illness and thousands of additional deaths as a result.”
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