The situation regarding alcohol treatment in England is improving, claims a new report from the NTA. While alcohol has long been seen as a ‘poor relation’ compared to drugs, waiting times are now lower and more people are coming forward for treatment, says Alcohol treatment in England and Wales 2011-12.
The number of people successfully completing treatment is also increasing, it says, with just over 38,000 people doing so in 2011-12, 6 per cent up from the previous year. The majority of those in treatment – 70 per cent – were in the 30-54 age range, with an average age of 42, and two thirds of the treatment population was male. Nearly 90 per cent were in the ‘white British’ ethnic group, and 19 per cent were referred by their GP, compared to 38 per cent who self-referred.
More effort was still needed however, the agency stated, adding that alcohol treatment would be a ‘significant priority’ for Public Health England (PHE). The proportion of people waiting fewer than three weeks to start treatment stood at 85 per cent, compared to 78 per cent in 2008-09, and while the figures were ‘heading in the right direction, there remains plenty of room for further improvement’, says the document.
‘The high number of people who require help with problem drinking remains a great cause for concern,’ said the NTA’s director of delivery, Rosanna O’Connor. ‘The signs that more are seeking to overcome their alcohol misuse and more are successfully completing treatment are, however, encouraging. This progress will continue to be driven by Public Health England, working with local authorities to ensure that the full range of effective alcohol services are available and accessible.’
She warned against complacency, stating that around 1.6m people were thought to have some level of alcohol dependence. ‘The health problems and costs associated with alcohol misuse are rising year-on-year, and preventing and tackling it will be a key priority for PHE,’ she said.
Meanwhile, the latest set of alcohol-related death figures has been issued by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). There were 8,748 alcohol-related deaths in the UK in 2011 – a figure largely unchanged from the previous year – with more than 66 per cent among males and death rates highest in the 55-59 age group.
NTA report at www.nta.nhs.uk
Alcohol-related deaths in the United Kingdom 2011 at www.ons.gov.uk