We often hear about the problems associated with drugs. Here’s a quote on that: “The research estimates that, for the year 2010-11, there were 298,752 opiate and crack cocaine users in England.”
However, compared to the damage caused by drugs, excessive alcohol consumption has far more impact. Just take a look at this collection of statistics (I will not burden you with hyperlinks, as these are all easy to find with the right words in Google)
- In 2011/12, there were 200,900 admissions where the primary diagnosis was attributable to the consumption of alcohol (the narrow measure).
- In 2011/12, there were an estimated 1,220,300 admissions related to alcohol consumption where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary reason for hospital admission or a secondary diagnosis (broad measure).
- Information on estimated costs to the NHS of alcohol misuse show that it costs £3.5 billion every year, which is equal to £120 for every taxpayer.
- It is estimated that 2.6 million children in the UK are living with parents who are drinking hazardously and 705,000 living with dependent drinkers.
- The number of dependent drinkers now stands at 1.6 million.
- Alcohol abuse could be costing the UK up to £6 billion a year in NHS bills, premature death, losses to business and drink-related crimes and accidents.
I want to draw your attention to alcohol dependency element, as when someone becomes physically dependant on alcohol, they cease to function normally, often losing their jobs, and becoming a burden on both their families and society as a whole. Surely, this is a problem that we should solve to both the economic and social benefit of the country?
I have known alcoholics and there are two types: active and dormant. Once someone has become an alcoholic, they are always an alcoholic, even when they stop, as there is always a risk they will slip back into their old ways. It is a disease. Something happens in the brain of the addict, that once they have the taste, they cannot stop. When it becomes a physical addiction, they cannot easily break it, as they will have a seizure with the cold turkey approach. It means that they need a drink in the morning to stop the “shakes” (DTs – Delirium Tremens).
Even once they have detoxed on drugs, though, then the real battle begins, programming their brain again to understand they must never drink or partake. The Alcoholics Anonymous mantra is: “One drink is too many”. Many go through multiple cycles of get addicted/detox/get addicted before they can finally get a mental handle on it – many are very intelligent people too. These people need help to overcome their addiction…
They can try going to Alcoholics Anonymous, and their “carers” to Al-Anon, the sister organisation. They can work wonders with some people, however, their approach turns some people off as it as close to being religious without being a religion.
To add insult to injury, this government has massively cut spending on Alcohol Support Services, which now means a lot more people end up with 999 calls when they have seizures if they try the cold turkey approach or run out of cash, racking up hospital costs. While this Guardian article refers to drug addicts, the same services are used to help both Drug and Alcohol addicts. Cuts of up to 50% have been made, which is madness when you realise that every £1 spent on this kind of support, can save £5 to £8 of NHS costs. And a more recent article in The Independent highlights the present situation.
Not only does it make economic sense to restore the Addiction Services to their former level, it will be an act of social “good”, reducing the impact of alcoholics on both families and society as a whole.
PS: This article was written to rebuff Iain Mckie’s contention here: http://ukipdaily.com/since-owning-plasma-tv-become-right/#comment-679 that Drug and Alcohol addiction is not a disease. Please read his article too, to see the full context of his remark.