Middle-aged and older drinkers behind ‘alarming’ rise in alcohol abuse

February 26 2019
Middle-aged and older drinkers behind ‘alarming’ rise in alcohol abuse

HOSPITAL admissions for conditions directly caused by alcohol abuse are soaring in South Gloucestershire, new Public Health England figures show.

The British Liver Trust says the figures are "alarming" and put them down to an increasing drinking culture amongst middle aged and older drinkers.

In South Gloucestershire, there were 1,698 admissions directly linked to excessive drinking in the 12 months to March last year – 59% more than five years earlier.

The data only includes patients suffering conditions which are entirely attributable to alcohol abuse, such as liver cirrhosis.

Admissions of underage drinkers have also risen. There were 66 in the three years to March 2018, compared with 38 over a similar period five years earlier. The figures for children are measured over a three year period due to low numbers.

Vanessa Hebditch, director of policy at the British Liver Trust, said the Government should increase taxes on alcoholic drinks or set a minimum unit price.

She said: "These statistics are alarming. Over the last thirty years, there has been a big shift in the UK’s drinking culture, particularly amongst middle aged and older drinkers.

"Filling up your supermarket trolley with wine and drinking at home has become increasingly acceptable and affordable. The Government should act to address this through taxation such as by creating a minimum unit price."

Scotland introduced a minimum unit price of 50p in 2017, while the Welsh Government is planning to implement the same measure next summer.

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Dr John Larsen, director of evidence and impact for alcohol education charity Drinkaware, warned that young people are more likely to binge drink.

He said: "The more alcohol people drink, the greater their risk of developing a serious condition, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as seven types of cancer.

"Men and women should not drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis."

Across England, 304,073 people were taken to hospital for conditions caused by alcohol abuse. That's 3% higher than five years earlier.

Salford, in Greater Manchester, has the highest rate of admissions for alcohol-specific conditions. Redbridge, in east London, has the lowest.

The Government estimates alcohol misuse costs the NHS about £3.5 billion each year.

Miguel Rodriguez/RADAR