Colin Angus presenting at the Managing Addictions in Primary Care Conference

SARG Senior Research Fellow Colin Angus spoke at the Managing Addictions in Primary Care conference last week.

The conference, which was jointly organised by the Royal College of General Practitioners and Addiction Professionals, took place in London on 22 & 23 February 2024.

The annual event brings together GPs and other primary care professionals, commissioners and researchers to explore a range of issues related to managing addictions in primary care.

Colin was invited to speak about his work on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms in the UK and how trends in both drinking and harm are playing out in the post-pandemic period. He presented data showing an apparent consolidation of increases in alcohol consumption among heavier drinkers during the COVID lockdowns and further increases in alcohol-specific deaths. This analysis presents a concerning picture for future trends in alcohol harms that have important implications for future alcohol policy.

Alongside this data, Colin also presented new figures showing an increase in the number of GPs talking to their patients about their drinking since before the pandemic, although numbers remain low in absolute terms. He suggested that the cost-of-living crisis may have further significant impacts on people’s drinking habits – both positive and negative – and that these changes may present an opportunity for GPs to initiate more conversations with their patients about their drinking.

Photo credit: Royal College of General Practitioners

Further reading

Angus C, Henney M, Pryce R (2024). Modelling the longer-term health and health inequality impacts of changes in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic in EnglandJournal of Public Health, DOI:

Angus C, Buckley C, Tilstra AM, Dowd JB (2023) Increases in ‘deaths of despair’ during the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA and UK, Public Health. DOI:

Kock L, Shahab L, Garnett C, Oldham M, Tattan-Birch H, Angus C, Brose L, Brown J (2024) Brief interventions for smoking and alcohol associated with the COVID-19 pandemic: a population survey in England, BMC Public Health, DOI: