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According to a report published November 25th titled “Adult substance misuse treatment statistics “, there has been a 27% rise in people dying while in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction from 2020 to 2021.

This was due to enforced restrictions resulting from what the government convinced many was a preventative measure to save lives in what they called a “Pandemic,” with many health services being adversely affected. The drug and alcohol treatment services were just one area that introduced changes to their interventions, such as face-to-face contact with service providers being restricted, under the guise that the measure would protect the staff. However, while protecting the staff, others were losing the desperately needed support from the interventions.

With figures, published by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, for England, National statistics, show deaths of those in treatment from 2020 to 2021 for alcohol addiction rose by almost half (44%) to 1,064 and for opiate- medication to treat pain, addiction by 20% to 2,418. “It’s likely that a number of factors will have contributed to the increase in the number of service users who died while in treatment during 2020 to 2021,” the report says.


These factors according to the report are like other areas, drug and alcohol treatment services were affected by the need to protect their staff and service users in the pandemic, with most restricting face-to-face contact. Other factors included the fact that most patients whose opioid substitute consumption was supervised before March 2020 were given take-home doses and fewer service users were able to access inpatient detoxification for alcohol and drugs. The restrictions were also responsible for a huge reduction in testing and treatment for blood-borne viruses and liver disease. source

The changes to alcohol and drug treatment were also responsible for a reduction in access to other healthcare services and changes to lifestyle and social circumstances during lockdowns were all factors that will have contributed to their deaths according to the National Statistics research.

The report shows that as a result, the higher mortality ratios are concentrated in the northwest and northeast of England. Ratios ranged from 0.2 in Redbridge to 2.0 in Gateshead. In London, higher ratios tended to be in the inner boroughs such as Camden and Southwark, and the lower ratios were in outer boroughs like Redbridge and Waltham Forest. Over a third, (34%) of deaths among opiate users were people living in the most deprived 10% of areas in England. In the non-opiate treatment group, there was a similar proportion, with 31% of people who died in treatment living in these most deprived areas.

 the people who died were also mainly in an older age bracket, as Data from the ONS shows that rates of drug misuse deaths continue to be higher among those aged 45 to 49, with over half of the people in treatment for drugs or alcohol being over 40 years old.


Although the figures show a small rise in the overall number of adults receiving help for drug and alcohol problems from 2020 to 2021, more than a quarter of a million people were affected with more than half in treatment for problems with opiates and a quarter with alcohol problems. source

Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK said many providers had reported a huge increase in alcohol referrals to their services after the first national lockdown. “Despite a rising demand, only 10 local authorities have been able to increase their spending on drug and alcohol treatment services in real terms since 2016,”

 “Many treatment providers are therefore not able to treat and care for the huge numbers of people who are drinking at high risk following the pandemic.” Said Professor Gilmore. With high-risk drinking up by 64% in people from lower socio-economic groups during the pandemic, he said the government “must now make sure that there is funding in place to support everyone who requires help”.


Funding and help are needed to also help the families of those that were let down by the restrictions to interventions too. Addiction as we know, also adversely affects other family members, therefore the restriction to accessing vital services has let many of these individuals down. This is particularly worrying when those family members are children. Out of people during the year of restrictions, there were 27,208 people starting treatment who were living with children, either their own or someone else’s. The average number of children per household where people in treatment live with a child was 1.9.

This amounted to a total of 51,328 children of people starting treatment yet a disgraceful 70% of these received no help at least in the early days. We all know that 70% is an awful lot of children, but let’s look at what that actually looks like on the graph below.


Like many other health interventions which were lacking due to the COVID restrictions, drug and alcohol treatment, “cannot be simply put on pause,” said Nuno Albuquerque, head of treatment for UKAT group which provides residential detox for drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Nevertheless, according to Mr. Albuequerque, a “concerning” number of services closed their doors to addicts during the pandemic”.

Yet we are still expected to believe that the measures, such as lockdowns and restrictions throughout 2020 and 2021 are anything at all to do with our health. Deaths from lack of treatment were seen across the board for many ailments due to lack of treatments during the “pandemic.”


As reported previously on The Expose, analysis, by the University of Sheffield, Loughborough University, and economists at Economic Insight, suggested that the number of deaths not caused by coronavirus dwarfed the numbers that were.  Even in the first eight weeks of lockdown, there were an estimated 21,544 extra deaths which is an average of 2,693 deaths a week. from other causes.

They argued that lockdown cannot plausibly save the lives of young people as their chances of dying from COVID is so low but could increase deaths from other causes. ONS data on deaths from other causes show large and sudden increases that only commence from the start of lockdown. Intensive policies were said to have been put in place that altered people’s perception of the COVID risk making them disproportionately scared, leading them to believe that COVID was a higher risk than it was and relative to other conditions. (Source).

This perception of risk is not formed in a vacuum but shaped and influenced by Government policy and communication. Resulting in individuals taking precautions that tragically increased death and decreased the likelihood of getting treatment at all for any other conditions. (SOURCE).

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7 days ago

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Adam Glover
Adam Glover
4 days ago

Great article highlighting yet another reason why lockdowns and restrictions have been detrimental to health