Almost Half a Million Alcoholics get No Help

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Public Health England estimates that 586,797 adults are dependent on alcohol and in need of specialist alcohol rehabilitation treatment. Yet, only 18% (104,153) received alcohol treatment between April 2018 and March 2019. [1]

Released in November 2019, these annual figures reveal the scale of unmet need amongst alcohol addicts in England. 482,644 people with an alcohol problem dealt with it alone in 2018-19 – roughly the population of Bristol or Liverpool. [2] If all these untreated people held hands, the human chain would stretch from London to Newcastle.

The true situation is likely to be even worse, however. For every person in need of treatment who doesn’t get help, alcoholism usually harms their relatives and close friends. Additionally, many alcohol dependent people struggle for years before admitting they have a problem – with mounting consequences for their health, relationships, job, finances and life opportunities.

Jason Shiers, Psychotherapist at UK Addiction Treatment, says: ‘Alcohol, though legal and widely available, is the most harmful drug in our society. At UKAT, we treat more people with alcohol addiction than any other substance or process addiction. These figures from Public Health England show that yet again, people with this devastating and life-threatening condition don’t have equal access to healthcare.’

Alcohol Addiction – the Biggest Challenge, Yet the Most Treatable

According to Public Health England, of the people who started new treatment journeys in 2018-19, 60% said they had a problem with alcohol. This compared to just 32% for opiates, 22% for crack cocaine, 19% for cannabis, and 15% for powder cocaine.

Amongst first time users of treatment services, 66% said alcohol was their only problem substance – showing that problematic drinking is the main challenge amongst the new cohort.

Most significantly, alcohol-only clients have the highest rate of completing their treatment programmes. On average in England, 60% are discharged with a successful outcome – with many facilities including UKAT centres achieving even higher completion rates.

These statistics show that alcohol treatment must be prioritised because when people with alcohol dependency can access the right help, they respond very positively.

Alcohol Treatment – the Way Out of Addiction

If you or a loved one can’t stop drinking, please do not suffer alone. Alcohol is a physically and psychologically addictive drug. When abused, it significantly alters brain chemistry, damages major organs and it increases the risk of alcohol-related illnesses including diabetes, depression, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and liver disease.

Typically, alcohol dependency progresses over time without help. This means that the symptoms and negative consequences get worse, not better. Professional intervention is vital to help people detox safely, then recover from the psychological impacts of alcohol addiction. Residential alcohol rehab and/or outpatient counselling, coupled with ongoing peer support, are the most effective methods to recover.

As the Christmas season approaches, a time when excessive drinking and alcohol marketing peaks, we urge anyone who is suffering with dependency to get help as soon as they can. Don’t put your health and wellbeing off until the New Year – you can start again today.’

For information about alcohol addiction, please visit the UKAT Alcohol page.


[1], [2]

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November 26, 2019
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