The Office for National Statistics published figures in late 2022 that 9,641 deaths due to alcohol were recorded in 2021. That was a staggering increase of 27% on the 2019 figures.
Of course, the pandemic created an increased opportunity to drink, with isolation and fear causing people to turn in increased numbers to alcohol as a coping strategy. At the same time, people struggling with alcohol abuse were cut off from support both personal and professional.
For the families of those affected, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg of alcoholism and binge drinking. That alcoholism leads to relationship breakdown has long been known, and it is one of the “Toxic Trio” of domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental illness that amount to safeguarding issues for children. During a costs of living crisis, families with finances on a knife edge will be even harder pressed if alcohol takes up scarce funds.
These figures hint at more relationship breakdown, more victims of domestic abuse and more children at risk as a result of increased alcohol abuse. Solicitors will need to be more vigilant than ever since, as with all addictions, acknowledging the problem can be very difficult for alcoholics, and steps can only be taken to address a problem and minimize its harm if it is clearly identified.