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Alcohol related deaths

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 Alcohol related deaths

A report in the Guardian by jenny Percival (27 01 09) regarding the amount of alcohol related deaths are still high and according to some health charities that number is ‘unacceptably high’ despite of figures showing a decline in mortality.

Some statistics will be relevant. With reference to the Office of National Statistics who state that there were 13.3 deaths per 100,000 people in 2007, down from 13.4 in 2006. However, it is still almost double the rate of the early 1990s; there were 6.9 deaths per 100,000 in 1991.Throughout 2007, there were 8,724 alcohol-related deaths, lower than in 2006, but more than double the 4,144 recorded in 1991.

Chief executive of Alcohol Concern, Don Shenker, says hat despite the recent fall, the rises since the 1990s meant that the UK was now above the European average level for liver disease. He argues, “Today’s figures demonstrate that alcohol misuse is one of the most serious public health problems facing the UK, and that it needs to be tackled urgently”. More specifically, he blamed the increase in deaths on rising consumption, as low-cost sales have made alcohol more affordable.

Crucially he further adds is that one in eighteen problem drinkers got the necessary support. He believes the government need to invest money in alcohol treatment.

The chief executive of the British Liver Trust, Alison Rogers said: “The death toll from alcohol remains unacceptably high, and twice as many people are dying from alcohol as 15 years ago.” She said the trust was worried that rates of excessive drinking were on the increase and warned that the alcohol-related death rate would increase because it could take up to 10 years for liver disease to develop.

She added: “We need a comprehensive strategy to tackle the effects of alcohol health harm, including a national liver strategy. This will help the NHS manage the aftermath of excessive drinking and help keep people alive and well rather than part of these mortality statistics.”

However, the Public Health Minister has state that alcohol abuse remained “one of the most challenging public health issues we face”. She said a government campaign to inform people about the number of units in their drinks was beginning to take effect. Feedback from a £6m campaign launched in May showed that more people were aware how many units of alcohol were in their drinks and what the recommended limits were.”

According to the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesman, Norman Lamb, he has accused the government of failing to deliver effective policy surrounding alcohol misuse. He says, “Despite a slight improvement on last year, these shocking figures show that the government’s strategy to tackle alcohol abuse is still failing. The doubling of the death toll from alcohol since the 1990s is deeply disturbing. Ministers must stop neglecting alcohol treatment services and wake up to the devastating toll of this national epidemic,”

It has also been reported that alcohol-related death rates have been consistently higher among men and older age groups. Since 1991, the highest death rates for men and women have occurred in those aged 55-74. The lowest rates have been in men and women aged 15-34, although there were slight increases for these groups between 2006 and 2007.

Separate figures released by the ONS showed that the number of people in the UK committing suicide is continuing to fall and is now at its lowest level in 17 years.

The ONS said that, in 2007, there were 5,377 suicides in adults aged 15 and over, 177 fewer than in 2006 and 940 fewer than in 1991. Three-quarters of the suicides in 2007 were by men – a proportion that has remained fairly constant since 1991.

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