Northern Ireland news

Alcohol-related deaths in Northern Ireland highest on record

More than 300 people died from alcohol-related causes in 2017

ALCOHOL-related deaths in Northern Ireland last year were the highest on record.

More than 300 deaths were linked to alcohol in 2017 - an increase of 30 per cent in the past decade.

Figures released yesterday by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency revealed that, as in previous years, more men died from alcohol-related causes than women.

Of the 303 deaths last year, 212 were men, with the largest number of deaths in people aged between 45 and 54.

Alcohol-linked deaths increased for the fourth consecutive year to reach the highest on record last year - 70 per cent more than 2001, when records first began.

Although such deaths account for less than two per cent of all deaths, they are notably higher in areas of deprivation.

People living in the most deprived areas are four times more likely to die from alcohol than those in the least deprived areas, the figures show.

Alliance health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw said "there is a need to break the taboo around alcohol addiction".

"There is a wider need for society to recognise alcohol addiction as an illness, many times brought about through mental ill health, debt and family breakdown," she said.

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker said the statistics were "extremely alarming".

"It is vital that addiction services are properly resourced and adequately sign posted to ensure those struggling with alcoholism can access the support services needed to help them overcome their addiction," he said.

But Colin Neill from Hospitality Ulster said while the statistics are "very concerning... they are inextricably linked to the continued increase of drinking at home".

"It is now clear we need to bring in minimum unit pricing of alcohol here," he said.

"The latest research shows that only six per cent of the population consumes 44 per cent of the alcohol, predominantly at home, with the negative consequences placing a huge strain on the health and social care system here."

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