Swanswell urges the government to do more to tackle problem drinking following the Statistics on Alcohol – England, 2014 report
29 May 2014
A new report about statistics on alcohol in England, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, is another clear example that more needs to be done to tackle problem drinking, says Swanswell.
The national recovery charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to research showing health issues relating to alcohol use and misuse in England.
The report found that among adults who had drank alcohol in the last week, over half, 55 % of men and 53% of women, drank more than the recommended daily amounts. Shockingly, 31% of men and 24% of women had drank more than twice the recommended amounts. The 2013 report shows very similar figures, displaying barely any change in people’s alcohol consumption.
Therefore, it isn’t surprising that we are still seeing an increase in alcohol-related hospital admissions. The report states that in 2012/13, there were an estimated 325,870 admissions where the primary diagnosis was attributable to the consumption of alcoho1. This is 124,970 more admissions than the previous year where there were 200,900 admissions. These hospital admissions have also increased since 2010/11, when there were 198,900 admissions of this type and a massive 41% increase since 2002/03 when there were around 142,000 such admissions.
Swanswell believes the government needs to provide better education and clearer information around the harms of problem alcohol use before we begin to see a decrease in these figures, instead of a rise year-on-year. We need to help future generations make informed decisions about their relationship with alcohol, and avoid drinking behaviour that could damage their health before we have a positive impact tackling society’s alcohol problem.
Introducing minimum unit pricing – alongside other measures linked to alcohol promotion, placement and the product itself – would also be a vital step in reducing the harms associated with problem drinking.
Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘While these are very worrying statistics, they’re not surprising – however, they should act as a wake-up call to everyone about the scale of problem alcohol use in England.
‘The problem is that alcohol has become so integrated into everyday life that it’s difficult for someone to know when drinking is becoming a problem. There are also so many mixed messages around alcohol, which add to the confusion.
‘We need to cut through the misinformation about alcohol and its effects. It’s vital that people have access to better education and clearer information – and that governments take appropriate action to remove mixed messaging around alcohol – so that they can make informed decisions to help them be safe.
‘Problem alcohol use costs the economy around £21 billion a year to deal with, including up to £3.5 billion in NHS costs and billions more dealing with related crime, lost working hours and other associated problems. The government needs to work together with our health and education systems to tackle this growing problem, so that we can see healthier future generations.
‘Ultimately, tackling problem alcohol use is not something any single government, organisation or individual can do on their own – we all have a part to play.’