Alcohol Abuse - The Facts!
An alcohol fact sheet published by the Institute
of Alcohol Studies (IAS) reports that in developed countries,
alcohol is the third leading cause of disease and injury, alcohol
causing nearly 10 percent of all ill health and premature deaths in
Europe. This is ahead of obesity, diabetes and asthma and second
only to smoking and blood pressure conditions.
In addition to the large-scale problems of
intoxication, addiction and a multitude of alcohol related social
problems, alcohol on a worldwide level causes an estimated 20 – 30
percent of cancer of the oesophagus, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the
liver, epilepsy, homicide / murder and motor vehicle accidents.
In the 2002 World Health Report, the World Health
Organisation estimated that globally 1.8 million people’s deaths
every year are directly attributable to alcohol consumption.
Moreover, it has been proven that a country’s drinking levels
directly parallel the level of harm caused, ie the more a country
drinks, the more alcohol-related harm occurs.
The UK is one of the top ten in the world for
alcohol consumption per head of population and alcohol abuse is
clearly escalating. The Office for National Statistics reported in
November 2006 that the alcohol related death rate in the UK doubled
from 4,144 deaths in 1991 to 8,386 deaths in 2005.
The death rate may be broken down by gender, with
studies indicating that alcohol related death rates are much higher
in males. The gap between female and male death rates is increasing
and in 2005 the rate was more than twice that of females with males
accounting for more than two thirds of the total alcohol related
deaths. Those living in deprived areas have a much greater risk of
an alcohol related death.
Alcohol abuse, as a cause of death in the UK, has
been estimated at 8000 – 40,000 annually, according to the IAS. The lower
figure constitutes deaths caused by alcohol defined causes such as
chronic liver disease. The upper figure is an estimate of all other
deaths in which alcohol has contributed but is not alcohol defined,
such as falls, suicide and motor vehicle accidents.
Alcohol misuse within the UK is highest in
Scotland. Whilst the population in England drink more frequently,
the Scottish population are more likely to exceed recommended daily
limits of alcohol with males consuming more than double female
alcohol intake. A quarter of women and two in five men in Scotland
exceed their daily limit. There were 41,651 alcohol related
discharges from hospitals in Scotland alone in 2006/7 which is an
increase from the previous year’s statistic of 39,061. According to
the Chief Executive of the national charity Alcohol Focus Scotland,
‘the number of people in Scotland hospitalised through drink has
soared by 270% in only 15 years.’
Additional Alcohol Statistics
Here are some examples of alcohol related harm in
Scotland caused by factors other than an alcohol related disease as
published by the Scottish Government:
Nearly half of those who commit murder in
Scotland - whose drink status is known - were drunk at the time of
Alcohol is the greatest single contributory
factor in deaths caused by house fire in Scotland.
A third of adult pedestrians killed on the roads
in Scotland had been drinking and one in six road accident deaths
are due to drinking.
Alcohol misuse costs Scotland’s economy around
£1.6 billion per annum along with tragic human costs including the
fact that between 80 – 100,000 children are living in homes in
Scotland where one or both parents suffer from an alcohol problem.
The Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker estimates
the overall economic damage as somewhat heavier – ‘alcohol abuse
still costs us £20 billion a year in crime and damage to health.’
The UK is demonstrating its commitment to
combating alcohol misuse and action taken so far includes the
allocation of funds to alcohol treatment and rehabilitation centres,
public information campaigns to raise alcohol awareness, a licensing
act and implementation of local alcohol action plans with strategies
for a long term proactive approach to dealing with nationwide
Please also see our
Tackling Drug Addiction - for Parents and Families page.