UK: Alcohol-related deaths on the increase

Alcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions in England have increased according to a report published May 31.

The Statistics on Alcohol in England 2012 report stated that in 2010, there were 6,669 deaths directly related to alcohol. This is a 1.3% increase on 2009 and a 22% increase on 2001 (5,476). Of these alcohol related deaths, 64% (4,275) died from alcoholic liver disease.

On the subject of hospital admissions, the report reads: “In 2010/11 there were 198,900 admissions where the primary diagnosis was attributable to the consumption of alcohol. This is a 2.1% increase since 2009/10 when there were 194,800 admissions of this type and a 40% increase since 2002/03 when there were around 142,000 such admissions.”

In 2011, there were 167,764 prescription items prescribed for the treatment of alcohol dependency. This is an increase of 4.7% on 2010 and an increase of 63% on 2003.

The net ingredient cost of these prescription items was £2.49million in 2011. This is an increase of 3.3% on the 2010 figure (£2.41 million) and an increase of 45% on the 2003 figure (£1.72 million).

However, the report did highlight a decline in underage drinking but a rise in “hidden binge drinking” among older drinkers.

Chris Sorek, chief executive of alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said: “Despite the common perception that sneaking a bottle of alcohol down the park is a right of passage for teens, there has been a 16% decrease in the number of 11-15 year olds who have tried alcohol since 2003, and fewer children say they are tolerant of their friends drinking.

“Today’s figures confirm the worrying trend of Britain’s hidden binge drinkers (25-44 year olds) who drink more heavily and more regularly than young adults. Many people don’t realise that regularly having a few glasses of wine at the end of a stressful day is classed as binge drinking and can have long-term implications for their health.”

The way the information is gathered to create the report is currently under consultation, which has been welcomed by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. You can read about this here.

WSTA interim chief executive Gavin Partington said:"We welcome today’s launch of a consultation to look at the best way of estimating alcohol-related hospital admissions. It is in everyone’s interest that we have an accurate and consistent picture of the scale of such admissions.

"Whilst the continued rise in alcohol-related deaths is concerning, the long-term downward trend in adults drinking over the recommended limits is positive.

"The decline in underage drinking and the fact that young people are themselves becoming less tolerant of drinking amongst their peers is particularly welcome. It suggests messages about the risks of underage and excessive drinking are getting through."