DOZENS of people in Southampton lost their lives caused by alcohol during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

Public Health England data shows 35 people from Southampton were among the 6,985 who died from alcohol-specific causes across the country last year.

That is up from 27 recorded in 2019.

Deaths directly caused by excess drinking soared by a record 20 per cent across England in 2020, with thousands of people losing their lives to alcohol consumption.

The "devastating increase" is stark evidence of the pandemic's impact on people's drinking patterns, according to charities Drinkaware and Alcohol Change UK.

Councillor Ivan White said that Southampton had "sadly not escaped the unwelcome trend" in a rise of deaths seen nationally through alcohol.

The figures suggest 13 in every 100,000 people in England died solely because of alcohol abuse last year – the rate in Southampton was higher, at 18.

During that time, authorities registered a total of 20,500 deaths nationally that were either wholly or partially related to alcohol consumption – 83 people lost their lives for this reason locally.

Councillor Ivan White, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “Nationally, there has been a rise in alcohol-related deaths and Southampton has sadly not escaped this unwelcome trend. These figures are a reminder that alcohol can have a tragic impact, which is why it’s important that we continue to work with our local partners to ensure that people can access free specialist support.

“It isn’t always easy to recognise when drinking may be starting to have an impact on our health. My message to anyone who is worried, has doubts or is even just thinking about their drinking is: please know that local, free and confidential support is available to you. Our local free alcohol advice line provides confidential and non-judgmental support for anyone worried about their drinking and it’s easy to get in contact - just call Change Grow Live on t. 023 82 002 764. You can also speak to your GP practice and get more information from Alcohol support - NHS (”

A spokesman for the Department for Health and Social care said alcohol misuse could have a tragic impact and said the Government is committed to supporting those at risk.

He added: “We have announced the largest ever increase in substance misuse treatment and recovery funding, with a £780 million of additional investment over the next three years.

“Work is already underway to address alcohol-related health harms, their impact on people’s life chances and to reduce associated inequalities, including establishing specialist alcohol care teams in hospitals and supporting children of alcohol dependent parents.”