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Alcohol-specific deaths rise 20% in 2020

Alcohol has killed more people in 2020 in England and Wales than in any of the previous 20 years. Official data released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows there were 7,423 deaths from alcohol misuse last year - a rise of 20% from 2019. Read more about this story on the BBC News website.

For every life lost to alcohol, there will be family member and friends suffering the loss of their loved one. The death of someone you love is emotionally devastating in any case but losing a loved one through substance use can add a sense of immense isolation to this experience.

If you have lost someone to alcohol or drugs please see below for a range of information and support that is available:

  • Adfam has launched a series of video support sessions available on our website. This includes a video specifically on substance-related bereavement:
    • Adfam and Cruse previously ran a peer support project for people bereaved through substance use, and although the funding for this work finished in 2017, as a project legacy we developed a website with useful information and guidance for people that have lost someone through alcohol and drugs:
    • Adfam and Alcohol Change UK co-produced an information toolkit on alcohol-related bereavement
    • Adfam's Journeys Resource provides advice to anyone suffering from a drug or alcohol related bereavement. 
    • DrugFAM offer a telephone helpline for families that have been bereaved as a result of a loved one’s drug/alcohol misuse, phone 0300 888 3853.
    • DrugFAM also run a quarterly support group for people bereaved through substance use:
    • The Compassionate Friends has provided a resource for parents bereaved through drug and alcohol use. This resource discusses the days immediately after a loss, the effect on the wider family and talking to non-adult children about loss.
    • Cruse Bereavement Care offers support and advice for people who have recently lost a loved one. Call their helpline on 0808 808 1677 or email Find out more at
    • Other bereavement support organisations include the Good Grief Trust – they have support information on their website and a bereavement telephone helpline.

    If you are a practitioner that works with families who are suffering the loss of a loved one through substance use, Adfam has recently created a CPD-accredited training course  to counsel people bereaved through a substance-related death. To find out more email

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