Forth Valley charity outlines impact of Covid pandemic on region's alcohol deaths surge – Daily Record

Recent figures reported a total of 21 alcohol-related deaths in Stirling in 2020 – the highest figure since 2008.
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The impact of the Covid pandemic on the region’s alcohol deaths surge has been put in the spotlight by a Forth Valley-based charity.
New figures released last week by Public Health Scotland revealed that 21 people had lost their lives to alcohol-related deaths over the course of 2020 – the highest figure seen in the city since 2008.
It was also an increase of five from the same rate in 2019.
Across Forth Valley as a whole, 70 deaths directly linked to alcohol were recorded in 2020 which represent the first time the rate across the region has crossed that figure.
It has prompted charities such as Addictions Support and Counselling – which helps people in recovery across Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Falkirk – to call for greater efforts in reaching those struggling about the potential way out.
Christina Feaks, Forth Valley recovery community team leader at ASC, said: “The alcohol deaths figures are a devastating blow, particularly after the shocking figures released last month on 2020 drug deaths.
“It’s not just a number, it’s someone’s brother, sister, mother, father, daughter or son. Their deaths will have had a detrimental effect on their family and friends and will have left an unreplaceable void in their lives.
“These are 21 deaths that could have been prevented. A possible rise in these figures could have a lot to do with the Covid pandemic, which has seen services being closed or having to change to virtual platforms.
“The social isolation in the lockdowns has subsequently led to deterioration in people’s mental health and the inability of them being able to make connections, seek help support and advice.
“People not being able to access the support online due to not having the capacity or internet access is another key issue.
“Services and voluntary organisations need to work hard to get back up and running but also to build strong working partnerships and be able to signpost people the right place for them.
“We need to make recovery more visible within the Forth Valley and encourage people to connect or reconnect with our recovery community and other addiction services. Let them see that there is help and support out there and that there is hope for people struggling with alcohol addiction.”
The link to the impact of the pandemic has also been shared by a national charity seeking to reduce alcohol-related harm, as well as a call for a similar level of investment in alcohol treatment as has been seen in tackling issues around drug deaths.
Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “Last year we saw a positive reduction in the number of deaths caused by alcohol. This sudden increase of 17 per cent is devastating to see and a tragedy for everyone affected.
“It is a stark reminder that we cannot afford to take our eye off the ball where alcohol harm is concerned.
“Scotland has made good progress in addressing the problems we have with alcohol by introducing policies like minimum unit pricing which is showing promising results. Yet the impact of the pandemic threatens to undermine this progress.
“Many people, particularly heavier drinkers, have reported that they have increased their drinking during the last 18 months. The effects are felt most by those living in our poorest communities, who are eight times more likely to die due to alcohol.”
“If we are to prevent more people losing their lives to alcohol and to reduce health inequalities we need to redouble our efforts by reducing the availability of alcohol, restricting its marketing and by uprating minimum unit price.
“Importantly, we also need to make sure that support is available to those who need it now. To reduce the long-term impact of the pandemic this needs to be matched with investment in recovery-oriented alcohol services.”

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