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‘Hidden health crisis’ of drinking must be addressed as problem becomes ‘more urgent’ during covid

Alcohol harm is a “hidden health crisis” and the problem has become more urgent amid the coronavirus pandemic, a report has warned.

A new Government strategy is needed to tackle the issue and the conversation around drinking must change, the Commission on Alcohol Harm said.

Baroness Ilora Finlay, commission chairwoman, said the problem goes beyond people who drink and that the time has come to “put the responsibility squarely with the harmful product itself”.

The commission, made up of MPs, peers and health experts, said it had received “overwhelming evidence” about the harm caused to children and family life.

It said children living with an alcohol-dependent parent are five times more likely to develop eating disorders, twice as likely to develop alcohol dependence or addiction and three times as likely to consider suicide.

The commission said it also heard evidence that families affected by alcohol can struggle to access the support they need.

The group warned that alcohol is the leading risk factor for ill health, death and disability among people aged 15 to 49 in England but that not enough is being done to tackle the problem.

Baroness Finlay described the harmful effects of alcohol as a “hidden health crisis”.

She said: “We need to finally acknowledge the true scale of the harm caused by alcohol, which goes far beyond individuals who drink, and put the responsibility squarely with the harmful product itself.

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