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Alcohol deaths in north have shot up since 2001

Alcohol-related deaths have shot up in the north over the last two decades
Claire Simpson and Press Association

DEATHS due to alcohol abuse in Northern Ireland have shot up over the last two decades with a 40 per cent increase since records began in 2001.

According to the Office for National Statistics the rise in the north is steeper than in England, Scotland and Wales.

Figures have revealed that although Scotland has a higher proportion of alcohol-related deaths - around 20.5 people per 100,000 of the population - this rate has significantly dropped by 21 per cent since 2001.

Shortly after the turn of the millennium, alcohol claimed the lives of around 12.4 people per 100,000 of the north's population, compared to 17.4 people last year.

Men are more likely to be affected, with 25 deaths per 100,000 men last year - a 47 per cent rise since 2001.

However, across the UK, an increasing number of women are dying from alcohol abuse.

Last year, the number of women who died from alcoholism was 8.0 per 100,000 - the highest rate since 2008.

In the north, deaths surged from 6.4 per 100,000 women in 2013 to 11.8 in 2016.

However, this rate dropped last year to 10.2 - just behind Scotland.

A total of 7,697 people in the UK died due to alcohol last year, similar to the highest levels recorded in 2008.

Death rates were highest among 60 to 64-year-olds in 2017, at 29.7 per 100,000, overtaking 50 to 54-year-olds, who had the highest rate in 2001 at 25.1 per 100,000.

Karen Tyrell, executive director of external affairs at Addaction, a mental health, drug and alcohol charity, said: "We know alcohol is an issue for over-50s and we need to do a lot more to reach this group in a way that works for them".

"For older drinkers, alcohol often creeps up and gradually plays a more central role in day-to-day life," she said.

"The people we work with frequently talk about alcohol as a way to deal with loneliness, isolation, and the sense of loss that sometimes comes with retirement and move into a new phase of life."

She added: "The good news is that everyone can change their relationship with alcohol. Thousands of us do it every month. There's no 'right' way to do it. Everyone's journey is different and worthwhile. If you need help or support, reach out."

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