An estimated 8.4 million people in the UK consumed “high-risk” amounts of alcohol throughout June, compared to around 4.8 million people four months previous
The number of people throughout the UK drinking at high-risk levels has almost doubled since just before the nation’s coronavirus lockdown, according to experts.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) has said that an estimated 8.4 million people drank “high-risk” amounts of alcohol throughout the month of June, compared to 4.8 million people four months earlier.
The college has raised concerns over many addiction services being unable to treat the “huge numbers” of high-risk drinkers after being “starved of funding” for many years.
This comes after people across the UK have been unable to get tests for COVID-19 because laboratories have reached a “critical pinch-point” in processing them. The director of COVID-19 testing at NHS Test and Trace, Sarah-Jane Marsh, has apologised for the unavailability of tests.
The RCP’s president, Dr Adrian James, has said that the government would need to commit “substantial” investment into public health in order to prevent more lives from being “needlessly lost” to alcohol addiction.
A report by the college has called upon ministers to reverse the cuts to the services and help local authorities to work towards investing £374m into adult health services in order to address the increased need for addiction treatment.
Dr James said: “Addiction services have been starved of funding in recent years meaning many are not able to treat and care for the huge numbers of people who are drinking at high risk.
“More lives will be needlessly lost to addiction unless the government acts now and commits to substantial investment in public health, including adult addiction services, in the spending review.”
Professor Julia Sinclair, chair of the RCP’s addictions faculty, said COVID-19 had shown “just how stretched, under-resourced and ill-equipped addiction services are to treat the growing numbers of vulnerable people living with this complex illness”.
She added: “There are now only five NHS inpatient units in the country and no resource anywhere in my region to admit people who are alcohol dependent with co-existing mental illness.
“Drug-related deaths and alcohol-related hospital admissions were already at all-time highs before COVID-19. I fear that unless the government acts quickly we will see these numbers rise exponentially.”
This comes after people who live in Bolton will not be permitted to socialise with those from other households after lockdown restrictions have been tightened in the town, The health secretary stated that the rise in coronavirus cases in Bolton is “partly due to socialising by people in their 20s and 30s”.
Mr Molodynski said: “Specific funding must be allocated to local authorities who have sustained years of cuts, to enable them to substantially increase spending on public mental health.”
“Now more than ever, it is crucial that some of this is directed towards substance abuse services as the impact of isolation along with the potential impact of job losses and economic downturn gives rise to higher dependence on substances.”