Northern Ireland sees 40% increase in deaths caused by alcohol since 2001
There has been a 40% increase in the number of people who have died alcohol-specific deaths in Northern Ireland since records began in 2001.
The Office for National Statistics reported the figures as part of a report into alcohol related deaths across the United Kingdom.
Data from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency show that 303 people died directly from alcohol in 2017, the highest since records began.
Records show 178 people died from alcohol in Northern Ireland in 2001, while the lowest on record is 2003 with 175 deaths.
Deaths from alcohol have increased for both males and females with 61 women dieing from alcohol in 2001, compared with 91 in 2017.
In contrast, 212 men died as a direct result of alcohol in Northern Ireland in 2017, the highest on record, compared with 117 in 2001.
Wholly alcohol related death rates among women across the UK are at the highest level recorded.
Across the UK 2,564 women died as a direct result of alcohol in 2017, compared with 5,133 men, the overall death rate was similar to the highest levels recorded in 2008.
Death rates across the UK among men tend to be double that of women.
Scotland continues to have the highest rate of alcohol specific deaths, but is the only country that has seen a statistically significant decrease since 2001, with deaths reducing by 21%.
Karen Tyrell, executive director of external affairs at Addaction, a mental health, drug and alcohol charity, said older drinkers were becoming an increasing issue.
"We know alcohol is an issue for over-50s and we need to do a lot more to reach this group in a way that works for them. For older drinkers, alcohol often creeps up and gradually plays a more central role in day-to-day life," she said.
"The people we work with frequently talk about alcohol as a way to deal with loneliness, isolation, and the sense of loss that sometimes comes with retirement and move into a new phase of life.
"The good news is that everyone can change their relationship with alcohol. Thousands of us do it every month. There's no 'right' way to do it. Everyone's journey is different and worthwhile. If you need help or support, reach out."
Belfast Telegraph Digital