Major rise in NHS alcoholism treatment

 The number of prescription items dispensed annually to treat alcohol dependency has risen by 63% in the last eight years.

The total cost to the NHS of drugs for alcoholism increased by 45% between 2003 (£1.72m) and 2011 (£2.49m), including 3% in the last year.

These figures in the report Statistics on Alcohol: England, 2012 reflect increases both in the prevalence of alcoholism and in NHS investment in drugs to treat it.

The report also showed a 40% increase since 2003 in hospital admissions where alcohol abuse was the primary diagnosis, reaching 198,900 in 2011.

Hospital admissions where alcohol abuse was either the primary or a secondary diagnosis reached 1,168,300 in 2011, an increase of 11% on the previous year and of 130% on 2003.

The north-west had the highest number of prescription items for alcoholism at 517 per 100,000 people, while London had the lowest at 138 per 100,000.

Tim Straughan, Chief Executive of HSCIC, commented: “This report shows how drinking in England has impacted upon admissions to our hospitals and prescriptions dispensed in our communities.”