Alcohol-related deaths have fallen across Yorkshire and The Humber — the only significant regional change for the UK in 2018.
According to the most recent figures released by the ONS, 610 alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 people were recorded in 2018 — a decrease of 14% from the previous year.
In 2017, this figure was 709, the highest since records began for the region.
Overall, there were 7,551 deaths registered in the UK in 2018 related to alcohol-specific causes, a slight dip on the previous year’s total of 7,696, but the second-highest figure since records began in 2001.
A spokesman for the UK Addiction Treatment Centres said: “December is a difficult month for those weary of alcohol, especially as it becomes difficult to avoid with Christmas and the New Year celebrations.
“Although the decrease in overall alcohol-related deaths for the Yorkshire and The Humber region is welcomed, what we would say to the general public is these statistics aren’t just numbers.
“A mother, father, child, or friend has passed away because of excessive alcohol consumption, and they won’t get to enjoy the festivities this year,” they added.
Across England, with the exception of London, alcohol-specific deaths have increased in all regions since the time series began in 2001, and have tended to be higher in the North of England.
It comes as the number of people requiring treatment for alcohol dependency has risen year-on-year, while successive cuts to public health funding have made access harder.
Alcohol-specific deaths are defined as those resulting from health conditions that are a direct consequence of alcohol misuse, such as alcoholic liver disease.
Carlos Pepoll, 34, from Sheffield, quit drinking after realising it was taking a toll on his health.
He said: “I used to think drinking was fun. If I look back now, I should have tried to access help when I was 26, but because of life circumstances, I found drinking an easier coping mechanism.
“I realised if I continue to drink the amount that I do, then I could get coronary heart disease — my stepfather died of that.
“I do believe that awareness campaigns have made a difference. There’s more awareness than when I was younger,” he added.
There was also a gender split found within the data.
In Yorkshire and The Humber, 401 men had passed away due to alcohol-related deaths, compared to 209 females.
Tim Renshaw, Chief Executive of Cathedral Archer Project, disagreed that there was a decline in alcohol-related deaths.
He believed the data was ‘unintentionally vague’ and questioned how it had been recorded.
He said: “I would doubt that these statistics are always recorded as alcohol-related deaths, because alcohol has an incrementally bad effect on somebody’s health.
“In our project, we would see someone’s health deteriorate and eventually be taken into hospital with a condition such as pneumonia. Their death would be recorded as related to that condition, when actually, that’s been built on years of self-abuse either from drugs or alcohol.
“We know from people who access our services that two people have already passed away.
One of our users died in a flat and it was recorded as a suicide, yet we know he was depressed and was dependent on alcohol,” he added.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our government strategy to reduce alcohol-related deaths is working, and we remain committed to tackling alcohol-related harms through taxation, pricing and protecting the innocent victims of addiction such as children of alcoholics.
“Prevention is at the heart of our bold plans to secure the future of the NHS, as outlined in the NHS long-term plan, and comes alongside the £3bn we are giving to councils to fund public health services this year including drug, alcohol and sexual health services.”
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised, you can contact the following organisations for help and guidance:
Alcohol Change UK – The national organisation campaigning for effective alcohol policy and improved services for people whose lives are affected by alcohol-related problems.
Drinkline – Advice to those worried about their own, or a loved one’s, alcohol use. Contact their free helpline on 0300 123 1110.
NHS Choices Alcohol Support – Includes information on alcoholism, binge drinking, and caring for someone with an alcohol problem.