Alcohol Map Should be Wake Up Call, Swanswell Says

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Swanswell believes a new map revealing the real harm and cost of alcohol misuse across England should be a wake-up call to government, health services and society as a whole.

...tackling alcohol misuse is not something any single government, organisation or individual can do on their own – we all have a part to play by taking responsibility for our own alcohol use

The national charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to Alcohol Concern’s ‘Alcohol Harm Map’, which is designed to help local authorities ensure alcohol prevention and treatment services are where they need to be.

The map highlights how many people are drinking at harmful levels, the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions and alcohol-related healthcare costs in each local authority area.

According to the results of the map, more NHS money is spent treating alcohol-related hospital admissions for the 55 to 74-year-olds (more than £825 million) in 2010/11, compared to those in the 16 to 24-year-old age group (about £64 million), reports BBC News.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘The results highlighted in the alcohol map don’t come as a surprise to us but they reveal some of the hidden costs that alcohol misuse causes – not just to health but to society as a whole.

‘The figures show that it’s the 55 to 74-year-old age group that costs the NHS most money when it comes to alcohol-related hospital admissions. Again, not surprising, but it’s evidence of the harm caused by alcohol use over a prolonged period of time.

‘Swanswell has recently been talking about one of the hidden harms of alcohol misuse – Alcohol-Related Dementia (ARD) - during fringe events at the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences.

‘It’s a silent epidemic that could affect up to 80,000 people in the UK and is similar to other forms of dementia, so is difficult to diagnose. That is caused by excessive alcohol use over time, and we’re aware of cases in people as young as 27.

‘Potentially it can be reversed if caught early enough and with the right treatment, saving lives and millions of pounds for the economy.

‘So projects such as this could go a long way to helping tackle alcohol misuse and reduce the chances of people needing repeated alcohol-related hospital admissions when they get older, something the report clearly shows is costly.

‘However, tackling alcohol misuse is not something any single government, organisation or individual can do on their own – we all have a part to play by taking responsibility for our own alcohol use.’

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Stuart Goodwin
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