Health

Prescription drugs to treat alcohol top £3m

Man drinking beer Image copyright PA
Image caption The numbers of men and women who drink frequently are decreasing

There were a million hospital admissions related to alcohol last year in England and £3.13m was spent on prescription drugs to treat alcohol dependency.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre's latest report shows that 65% of adults admitted were men, but more under-16 girls than boys were admitted.

Frequent drinking among men and women continues to fall.

Deaths from alcohol in England also decreased by 4% to 6,490.

The HSCIC figures, contained in Statistics on Alcohol - England, 2014 uses a number of sources of information to calculate alcohol-related hospital admissions.

The centre also gauges drinking behaviour among adults and schoolchildren in England.

Its report shows that of the 1,008,850 hospital admissions in England related to alcohol last year, where a disease, injury or condition is the main or secondary reason for admission, the majority were male patients.

But among under-16s, females were in the majority, with 2,480 admitted in 2012-13, compared with 1,890 males.

The North East of England recorded the highest rate of alcohol-related admissions (2,500 per 100,000 population) and the South East recorded the lowest (1,500 per 100,000 population).

The cost of prescribing drugs to treat alcohol dependency rose by around £200,000 to £3.13m in 2012. This is the first time the tally has reached £3m.

More than 183,000 items were prescribed in 2013.

Drinking down

However, although this cost is increasing, the HSCIC Health Survey for England suggests that the percentage of people in Great Britain who drink regularly is decreasing.

Between 2005 and 2012 the percentage who drank alcohol in the week before being interviewed fell from 72% to 64% for men, and from 57% to 52% for women.

The survey also shows that the percentage of men who drank alcohol on at least five days in the week declined from 22% to 14%.

The percentage of women who drank frequently fell from 13% to 9%.

Kingsley Manning, chair of the HSCIC, said: "Today's report highlights one of the areas of impact that alcohol dependence has on our NHS. The fact there has been a rise of nearly 70% in the prescribing of alcohol dependence drugs over the last decade is striking.

"These data provide an insight into the effect of alcohol on services, and will offer a better understanding to the public, health professionals and policymakers into this ongoing public health issue."

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