The long-awaited alcohol misuse strategy launched this week has
been slammed for failing to tackle urgently the chronic
underinvestment in treatment services.
Victor Adebowale, the chief executive of social care charity
Turning Point, said the document gave “little concrete hope of
speedier, more effective treatment” to people who want to deal with
“This is small comfort for the families of the 13 people who will
die today, as every day, as a direct result of alcohol misuse,” he
Research by the charity found that nearly 60 per cent of dependent
drinkers faced delays in accessing services. On average, they
waited four months for treatment but in some cases it was 18
The strategy includes a proposal for a national audit of alcohol
treatment services to identify gaps in provision and give better
help to vulnerable groups, such as drug abusers and homeless
But Alcohol Concern chief executive Eric Appleby said the strategy,
which has been six years in the making, did not address the
“developing crisis” in treatment services.
“A future audit does nothing for current underfunding and
undercapacity,” he said. “An interim initiative for the period
until the audit is complete is an absolute necessity. We will be
pushing hard for this. Without this contingency we expect some
services to close before the results of the audit are published.”
Six times as many people are dependent on drink as class A drugs,
yet only one-fifth of the funding for treatment is available.
The government estimates that alcohol misuse costs about £20bn
a year and is responsible for more than 30,000 hospital admissions
annually and 22,000 deaths. At weekends, up to 70 per cent of
A&E admissions are alcohol-related.
Measures to target under-16s, who are drinking twice the amount
they were 10 years ago, are also included in the document, with
plans to improve education on the issue.
The drinks industry will be expected to print “sensible drinking”
information on bottles and advertisers will be told not to
glamorise irresponsible behaviour.
Councils will be expected to lead partnerships with the police, the
drinks industry and licensing panels to draw up a code of good
conduct for retailers, pubs and clubs.
– Alcohol Reduction Strategy for England from www.strategy.gov.uk