Alcohol related deaths rise as more people struggle due to the pandemic

Credit: PA

Charities in the ITV Border region are warning of an addiction crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Across the UK, the number of alcohol related deaths rose by almost twenty percent in 2020-2021, the highest year on year increase since records began in 2001.

Nearly 9,000 people died.

During the the first lockdown, the Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service (CADAS) recorded a 25% increase in the number of calls to its helpline.

The organisation says many of those calling were recovering addicts, but their recovery was jeopardised due to the lockdown.

"Covid was something nobody expected to be so prolific, so there was a lot of frustration and anxiety; people were scared," said Richard Cason, who is a recovered addict but now works with CADAS.

"Isolation is sometimes the worst for people with addiction, because all they've got is their own thoughts. If they're already giving their brain that chemical reward by using then there's going to be that cycle."

According to CADAS coronavirus not only caused many lapses in recovery, but it pushed some over the edge.

Some of those getting in touch for the first time were small business owners worried about financial pressures.

Working from home also meant that those who would usually commute did not have to worry about being over the limit the next day.

Scotland has a higher mortality rate than England.

21 people per 100,000 die as a result of alcohol compared to 14 south of the border.

Castle Craig Hospital in the Scottish Borders is a private rehab centre, and its patient numbers have doubled since the start of the pandemic.

Despite the worst of the pandemic seeming to be over, mental health professionals at the hospital believe the problem will continue.

Teri Fairnie is a Therapist there and said "It's not a matter of willpower, it's never been a matter of will power.

"Addiction is a multilayered problem and it has to do with our loss of connection and our difficulty managing those uncomfortable feelings or problem solve once you reach a certain point in your struggle."

Teri said the ongoing effects are due to anxiety around people relearning how to socialise, changes to their working pattern and financial pressures.

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