Harmful youth drinking falls, but inequalities persist

The rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions among the under-18s has fallen by more than 40 per cent over the last decade, according to new figures from Public Health England (PHE).

The latest statistics from the local alcohol profiles for England (LAPE) show that alcohol-specific admissions for this group fell to 13,725 nationally over the last three years, compared nearly 23,000 in 2006-07. The numbers provide more evidence of ‘a continuing decline in young people’s harmful drinking’, says PHE.

However, almost 60 per cent of English local authorities saw small increases in adult admissions, up by 1.3 per cent overall to 326,000. The increase was larger among women, at more than 2 per cent, than men (less than 1 per cent). Inequalities in alcohol-related deaths also remain ‘particularly stark’ in relation to chronic liver disease, says the agency, with the most deprived areas experiencing double the death rate, while general alcohol-related hospital admissions were 55 per cent higher in the same areas.

An average of one year of life is lost due to alcohol-related conditions among English males, according to the data. In the most deprived communities, this rises to 15 months – almost double the eight months lost in the least deprived. For women, an average of just under six months of life is lost due to premature alcohol-related deaths.

‘The decline in hospital admissions from alcohol for under-18s is promising, but current levels of harm caused by alcohol remain unacceptably high, especially within the most deprived communities, who suffer the most from poor health in general,’ said PHE’s director of health and wellbeing, Professor Kevin Fenton. ‘Much of this harm is preventable and we need further action at a national and local level to implement the most effective evidence-based policies. Public Health England will continue to provide leadership and support to local areas to reduce the devastating harm that alcohol can cause to individuals, families and communities.’

Local alcohol profiles for England at http://fingertips.phe.org.uk