According to reports from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, HSCIC, the NHS spend more than £3 million on drugs to treat alcohol addiction in 2013. This is the highest spend ever for the UK.
The increased spend has been caused by a dramatic increase in the prescription of anti-alcohol abuse drugs. In 2012 the NHS prescribed around 184,000 drugs to treat alcohol abuse. That number rose by 3.1% in 2013 to 178,000. This is a 78.9% increase from ten years ago.
This information may indicate a shift in how alcoholism is being treated in the UK. Studies indicate that the number of people who drink regularly in the UK has fallen steadily since 2005. In 2005 22 percent of men said they drank regularly. That number dropped to 14 percent in 2012. For women the drop was equally noticeable. Female drinking went from 13 percent to 9 percent.
As the UK invests more in alcohol abuse drugs, some critics believe that more traditional therapies are better suited to treat addiction. They claim that simply prescribing a drug to curb alcohol consumption does not treat the root cause of the addiction. The HSCIC however is reserving judgement and watching the number of alcohol abuse patients in treatment.
HSCIC Chair Kingsley Manning said: "Today's report highlights one of the areas of impact that alcohol dependence has on our NHS. The fact there has been a rise of nearly 70 per cent in the prescribing of alcohol dependence drugs over the last decade is striking. These data provide an insight into the effect of alcohol on services, and will offer a better understanding to the public, health professionals and policy makers into this on-going public health issue."
The report from the HSCIC also brought some interesting facts to light about how people drink around the UK.
From 2012 to 2013 there were more than one million hospital admissions due to alcohol and nearly one third of these were men, 65 percent.
The people who were most likely to need alcohol related hospital treatment lived in the northeast while those least likely to need such treatment lived in the south east.
There has also been a fall in alcohol related deaths. In 2012 there were 6,490 while in 2011 there were 6,770. That is a drop of 4.2 percent. The majority of these deaths were caused by alcohol induced liver disease.
To learn more about alcohol addiction check out the Life Works Knowledge Centre.