Alcohol-related hospital visits reach record levels in England

Drink-related hospital admissions in England have reached record levels, according to a new compilation of statistics.

The research, published by The Information Centre for Health and Social Care, reported that numbers admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease had more than doubled over the past 10 years, with 35,400 admissions in 2004-05, up from 14,400 in 1995-96. Twice as many men as women were admitted with this illness.

Death rates linked to alcoholic liver disease have also risen steadily to just over 4,000 in 2004 – a 37% increase since 1999.

In-patient care for people with mental health or behavioural disorders resulting from alcohol misuse had also increased significantly, rising to 126,300 admissions in 2004-05, from 72,500 in 1995-96 (75% over the 10 years).

Cases of hospital admissions of patients with alcoholic poisoning had also increased, standing at 21,700 in 2004-05, compared with 13,600 a decade earlier.

A 2004 survey by the Centre of Adult Drinking found that three-quarters of the men interviewed and more than half of the women had had a drink in the previous week.

Young adults were the most likely to binge drink than any other age group, with 33% of men and 24% of women aged 16 to 24 drinking more than double the recommended number of units on one day in the previous week.

Older adults (aged 45 to 64) were more likely to drink smaller amounts regularly, on five or more days of the week.

Anne Jenkins of Alcohol Concern said the statistics presented “compelling evidence of the devastating impact of excess drinking on the nation’s health”.

Social cost of alcohol misuse as high as tobacco

A European report has estimated that the total social cost of alcohol misuse is as high as that for tobacco.

The report, compiled by the Institute of Alcohol Studies for the European Commission, also revealed that heavy drinking is the third highest risk factor for ill-health in Europe.

It is only surpassed by tobacco and high blood pressure, and is responsible for more than 7% of disability and premature deaths within the European Union.

Using taxation to raise the price of alcohol by just 10% within the EU’s 15 wealthiest member states would save 9,000 lives within one year, as well as generating 13bn (roughly 8.9bn) in excise duty, it calculated.

Srabani Sen, chief executive at Alcohol Concern, said: “Alcohol misuse is one of the most widespread public health problems that we are facing, and yet across Europe, far too little is being done to reduce the damage it causes and save lives.”

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