17 May 2018
The alcohol treatment system is in crisis. The recent report from Alcohol Concern/Alcohol Research UK reveals that the pressures services are under largely reflect those seen in last year’s State of the Sector report which looked at the state of the drug and alcohol treatment system. However, when it comes to specialist alcohol treatment, these pressures are exacerbated. Whereas drug treatment received heavy investment in the first decade of the 21st Century, this was not so for alcohol treatment; the story of alcohol treatment funding is not one of disinvestment, but one of a long-term culture of not prioritising it. Alcohol misuse harms individuals, families and communities, and treatment of problem drinkers is key to mitigating these harms.
It is encouraging that the Government has signalled that it is developing a new alcohol strategy and reviewing minimum unit pricing. At its heart, this strategy needs to address alcohol treatment and the lack of investment, as well as harms to children and families, how the strategy will complement the Government’s proposed measures for tackling domestic abuse, and the interaction between alcohol misuse and a range of multiple needs, in particular homelessness, mental health, and other substance use. We are keen to work with the Government as it develops this new strategy to make sure that it brings about effective action and change for vulnerable people.
- Spending on alcohol treatment in 2002/03: £217 million: Reducing Alcohol Harm: health services in England for alcohol misuse (National Audit Office, 2008)
- Spending on alcohol treatment in 2017/18: £216 million: Local authority revenue expenditure and financing England: 2017 to 2018 budget
- Overall health spend doubling: analysis of Government Budgets
- More than 4 in 5 people with an alcohol problem are outside treatment: NDTMS 2014/15 and Estimates of Alcohol Dependence in England based on APMS 2014