Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Surge in drug-drink abuse among over-40s

  • 3 Comments

High numbers of people in their 40s are being admitted to hospital for alcohol and drug abuse, while binge drinking is declining, a report has said.

Analysis by data firm Dr Foster shows drug and alcohol dependence accounts for 19% of emergency admissions among those aged 40 to 44 - the highest proportion of any age group.

Among those aged 45 to 49, 18% of emergency admissions are for drink and drugs.

Meanwhile, the impact of binge drinking on hospitals is declining, but the profile of binge drinkers is older than it was a decade ago.

In 2002/3, the typical age for an admission to hospital due to binge drinking was 16, rising to 19 in 2004/5 and 32 in 2012/13.

Nevertheless, teenagers and people in their 20s are still more likely to be admitted to hospital more often for binge drinking than older people.

The report found that more than 500,000 people have been hospitalised for drug and alcohol abuse at least once in the past three years, with 120,000 of those admissions for people in their 40s.

That is about twice the number of people in their 20s or 60s. The typical age for those admitted was 43 in 2012/13, up from 41 in 2002/3.

Of all the drug and alcohol patients admitted in 2012/13, 36% had been admitted more than once previously while 5% had five or more admissions.

Problems arising from drugs and alcohol also affect more people in poorer groups - 36% of patients were from the most deprived areas of the country compared with 9% from the wealthiest fifth of the population.

Dr Foster’s director of research, Roger Taylor, said: “The findings show that attitudes and behaviour among the young with regard to drugs and alcohol are improving but the same cannot be said about their parents.

“However, and worryingly, we expect the figures we have shown here to underestimate slightly the actual amount of patients admitted to hospitals with such problems.

“This is because we only looked at cases in this instance of where drugs or alcohol can be 100% attributable to a hospital admission - though we know many admissions are for instances where alcohol is a strong causal factor.”

Lord Victor Adebowale, chief executive of the Turning Point charity, said: “The fact that no GP was recorded for 22% of all emergency drug and alcohol admissions highlights the need for primary care to improve the way it supports people with complex needs.

“Some of those issues are hidden and will require a change in the way doctors do things, especially around stigma and embarrassment from patients approaching their GP.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “These figures highlight the very real harms that alcohol and illicit drugs can have on users of all ages, and the need for action not just to raise awareness and prevent substance abuse, but also to ensure that the right services are accessed by the people that need them.

“We are helping the NHS target harmful drinkers with measures such as increasing the use of interventions by health professionals, and introducing alcohol liaison nurses in A&E.

“However there must also be more focus on prevention, not just treatment for those with existing problems. That is why alcohol is addressed by GPs are part of the NHS Healthcheck.

“We are also working to both reduce harmful drug and alcohol use and to increase the numbers recovering from their dependence. Our focus is on combining health and social policies to help people affected access services, rebuild their lives and play a full part in society.”

Are you able to Speak Out Safely? Sign our petition to put pressure on your trust to support an open and transparent NHS.

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • With lots of job losses depression is high and could get higher as people struggle to pay bills.
    I have good friends who have lost their job and one had a pay cut. Christmas I know will not be as happy for them.
    Depression and alcohol abuse is closley related.
    GPs need to do some more to improve this area of care.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • life drives you to it!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • That 36% of patients came from deprived areas compared to 9% from the wealthist also points to a link between alcohol/substance misuse and poverty - prevention is not just about health it's a wider social issue that needs to be grappled with, don't you think?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.