Should Treatment For Alcohol-Related Illnesses Still Be Available on The NHS?

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Drinking can impact all areas of a person’s life – and alcohol abuse, addiction, and binge drinking can have numerous effects on your physical health and mental health.

In fact, The National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens found that alcohol use is classed as a carcinogen, and can cause several types of cancer.

Likewise, alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol poisoning, which should be considered a medical emergency.

Alcohol poisoning can lead to vomiting, seizures, and loss of consciousness – all of which can be fatal; especially the combination of vomiting and unconsciousness, which can lead to you choking on your own vomit.

A big risk when it comes to excessive alcohol consumption is developing a dependence on alcohol – which can be difficult to break alone. Treatment for alcohol-related illnesses can be expensive when you go to a private clinic, as can private rehab.

This is why many people turn to NHS services for medical treatment and mental health treatment – whether it’s due to alcohol abuse or not.

In this post, we are going to explore whether treatment for alcohol-related illnesses should be available through the National Health Service in the UK. Read on to learn more about the alcohol cost to NHS services.

Is Alcohol Consumption and Misuse A Problem In The UK?

It is no secret that alcohol consumption is a public health issue in England and the whole of Europe.

Data from the UK Government found that in the years 2020 to 2021, there were 814,595 alcohol-related hospital admissions that fall under the broad definition in England. When it comes to alcohol-specific admissions, there were 318,595 admissions.

Alcohol is the leading cause of disability, death, and general ill-health in people between the ages of 15 and 49 in England. It’s a significant problem for public health in the UK and has many economic and social consequences.

In fact, in 2012, A Cabinet Office estimated the costs of alcohol on the economy in England at £21 billion – however, the figure is thought to be much higher than that today.

It isn’t just alcohol abuse that is a problem in the UK – alcohol dependence is something that affects many people. In fact, around 4% of adults in England are alcohol dependent – which equates to around 6% of men and 2% of women.

There’s no denying that binge drinking, excessive alcohol use and alcohol dependence are a problem in the UK – leading to alcohol-related harm and alcohol-related disease, as well as social and economic effects.

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How Much Does Alcohol Cost The NHS?

The amount that alcohol costs the NHS depends on a variety of factors – for example, ambulance call-outs, the number of patients admitted, how many dependent drinkers there are, and many more.

Data published from NHS Digital states that in the years 2020 – 2021, there were 167,000 prescriptions given out for drugs to treat alcohol misuse. This is 1% higher than the previous year – but notably lower than the years 2014 – 2015.

These total net ingredients in these prescriptions cost the NHS £4.63 million, which is 2% higher than the previous year, 2019 – 2020.

The report also stated that alcohol use and heavy drinking was the main reason for approximately 280,000 people being admitted to hospital in 2019 – 2020, under the narrow definition. However, under the broad measure, there were close to one million admissions.

Each ambulance call-out costs the NHS around £292 – and although we don’t have the figures for alcohol-related ambulance call-outs, the figure is thought to be very high. In fact, in 2020, acute alcohol poisoning was to blame for 552 deaths in the UK.

So, Should The NHS Still Fund Treatment For Alcohol-Related Illnesses?

The NHS has recently announced new prevention measures – which means that those who are dependent on alcohol can receive the help they need from specialist alcohol support teams.

The measures are also in place to help those addicted to smoking – more than half a million patients who smoke (including pregnant women) will receive help to stop smoking. This new drive encourages all smokers that are admitted to the hospital to quit smoking.

These specialist alcohol care teams will be first rolled out in hospitals that have a high number of alcohol-related admissions.

The teams will provide support to both patients and their families. However, this drive will only be delivered to the 25% most affected part of the country.

The good news is that this plan could free up close to 250,000 hospital beds over five years, as well as prevent 50,000 hospital admissions.

An article from The Guardian stated that hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of people that are admitted to A&E and mental health units due to their heavy drinking habits. The cost of NHS treatment runs at around £3.5 billion per year.

Furthermore, around one in 10 people using hospital beds in the UK are dependent on alcohol – and one in five of these people are causing themselves physical harm from drinking. This is according to research that explores the burden on the NHS from heavy drinking.

Many people believe that people with alcohol use disorder and substance abuse problems should pay for their own addiction treatment instead of receiving it for free through the NHS.

However, whether people have to pay for it or not, people will still need support when it comes to addiction recovery. Not everybody is in a financial position to afford their own rehab treatment – and everybody deserves to get the help they need.

Alcohol Services Available on The NHS

The NHS can help if you want to seek treatment for your alcohol addiction. Visit your GP or chat with our experts at Help4Addiction to find the best short-term and long-term treatment plan to stay in control of your alcohol use, or become sober.

Whether you’re looking for rehab, hospital treatment for alcohol-related illnesses, or simply chat with a medical professional or addiction specialist, the NHS can help. Read on to learn more about some of the services for alcoholism that are available on the NHS, including detoxification and rehabilitation.

After all, it’s important that you have the right support when beating your addiction – it can be hard to stop drinking alone, and you could end up relapsing.

Friends and family can all help to ease the process, but it may not be enough – professional support may be the best option going forward.

NHS Alcohol Detox

Detoxification can be a difficult process, especially without the right support. Through the NHS, you can receive support in stopping drinking.

Although many people can successfully detox at home with the help of their friends and family, others benefit more from detoxing from alcohol in a residential facility, or a 24-hour medically supported unit.

If you have a severe alcohol addiction, you should detox with medical supervision so your withdrawal symptoms are monitored. This is because, generally speaking, the more severe your alcohol dependence, the more severe the withdrawal symptoms you’ll experience.

The length of detoxification can vary depending on a number of factors – including your addiction history, age, height, and weight. Symptoms will usually peak within three days – but milder symptoms can persist for weeks.

Alcohol withdrawal can be unpleasant, and difficult to deal with alone – which is why, at Help4Addiction, we can get you in touch with the best rehab facility for you to complete alcohol detox.

NHS Intensive Rehabilitation

Often, detoxification alone isn’t enough to break your addiction. Many people need intensive rehabilitation to beat their addiction and live a sober life. This is why most rehab programs consist of three stages – detoxification, alcohol addiction therapy, and secondary treatment or aftercare.

Intensive treatment for alcoholism is recommended after an assessment for those with medium to high levels of alcohol dependence. You may also benefit from an intensive rehab plan if you’ve previously received help that has not been successful.

When it comes to NHS rehab, local authorities are responsible for these treatment services. However, it isn’t always to receive funding. In many cases, you’ll have to undergo a secondary assessment to determine whether your rehab can be funded.

Likewise, the NHS is currently under strain, and there may be long waiting periods to receive rehabilitation treatment through your local authority. So, you’ll have to be patient or find an alternative.

This is why many people choose to attend private rehab. If you’re looking for private rehab treatment, our team of addiction experts at Help4Addiction can find the best treatment plan for you.

We’ll listen to your story, requirements, and preferences to source the best facility for you to receive the help you need. In some cases, medical insurance companies may fund part of these costs. Contact us today to learn more about alcohol rehab, and to get the ball rolling on the admissions process.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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