Daily Archives: 05/08/2015

UK has a chronic drink problem

This headline came from the Daily Mail in June and goes on to say: ‘The UK has a chronic drink problem’, says addiction expert as alcohol-related hospital admissions continue to rise – with women the most likely patients.  This is not news to us here in sober blog land.

chronic alcohol

Women are leading a rise in the number of people admitted to hospital for alcohol-related illnesses, new figures revealed today.  Three out of five local authorities across the UK have seen a rise in adult admissions linked to drinking.  But women are the most likely patients, the statistics published by Public Health England reveal.  Health officials said 59 per cent of local authorities saw an increase, with a 2.1 per cent rise among female patients, compared to a 0.7 per cent rise for men.

Dr Niall Campbell, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital in Roehampton, south west London, which specialises in alcohol addiction branded the figures ‘deeply worrying’, adding that the UK has a ‘chronic drink problem’.  He said he has witnessed an increasing number of women needing help with alcohol addiction, including middle-aged women and mothers in their 30s.  ‘These figures are deeply worrying,’ he said.

Women are drinking much more than they used to, particularly wine in the evening, and that quantity of drinking is causing significant problems in terms of liver disease and other serious conditions.  ‘The consequences for their physical health are huge. Women are literally dying for a drink, and it is a national pattern now.’  He said women drinking too much affected their mental health in terms of depression and anxiety, and their social health in their ability to care for children and being able to work, along with their physical health.   Excessive alcohol consumption is also leading to more marital breakdown, he added.

Dr Campbell described the UK as having a ‘chronic drink problem’.

‘It’s one of the biggest health problems facing our country and it is also fuelling the biggest, which is obesity,’ he added.  The statistics also revealed disparities between the most and least deprived areas.  Admissions were 55 per cent higher in more deprived regions.

It’s (alcohol) one of the biggest health problems facing our country and it is also fuelling the biggest, which is obesity
Dr Niall Campbell

While there were 559 alcohol-related hospital admissions per 100,000 people in North West England and 495 in the North East, at the other end of the spectrum, there were just 267 in the East of England.  Overall, admissions rose by 1.3 per cent, from 326,00 the previous year to 333,000.  The figures show a further drop in the rate of admissions among young people under the age of 18, which PHE said was evidence of a continuing decline in young people’s harmful drinking.  Nationally, alcohol-specific hospital admissions for under 18s over the last three years are down to 13,725 – a fall of 41 per cent against the earlies comparable figures, 22,890 between 2006 and 2007 and 2008 to 2009.

Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and well-being at PHE, said: ‘The decline in hospital admissions from alcohol for under 18s is promising, but current levels of harm caused by alcohol remain unacceptably high, especially within the most deprived communities, who suffer the most from poor health in general.

Much of this harm is preventable and we need further action at a national and local level to implement the most effective evidence based policies.   ‘Public Health England will continue to provide leadership and support to local areas to reduce the devastating harm that alcohol can cause to individuals, families and communities.’

Deaths related to alcohol remain at similar high levels to those reported over the past decade with more than 20,000 deaths in 2013.    The PHE figures show the areas with the most alcohol-specific hospital admissions were Salford (1,073.9 per 100,000 people), Blackpool (797.7) and Manchester (763.5).  The lowest were Wokingham, Berkshire (131.0), Thurrock, Essex (182.0), and Buckinghamshire (190.5).  The places with the most alcohol-specific deaths were Liverpool (25.3), Manchester (24.7) and Portsmouth (23), while the lowest were Rutland (3.8), Harrow (4.6) and Wokingham (5.5).

Alcohol is fuelling obesity.  This is something I’ve been musing about here on the blog so hearing it confirmed by a consultant is not satisfying in the least.  As he said it is deeply worrying …….

Sorry to end on a moment of gallows humour but this just seems so grimly appropriate and thanks to TeapotDictator for sharing it with me first 🙂