Alcoholism: Worst Addiction in England, New Report Says

While millions of people in England enjoy the pleasures of alcohol consumption, the widening preferences for this intoxicating substance have gradually ignited the number-one public health threat in the country — alcoholism. ‘Alcoholism is a devastating condition which affects our brain, heart, liver and overall neurology,’ say experts from Substance Rehabilitation UK.

England is facing its deadliest addiction epidemic ever, which continues to unfold and with no solution in sight, at least for now. The current state of this epidemic highly suggests that the landscape of alcohol dependence in the country today is worse than it was over the past decades. A government report on addictions tells the story.

Behind the Statistics: England’s Alcohol Addiction Epidemic

Although widespread substance use has been a pressing issue in England for years, alcoholism ranks as the fastest-growing addiction. The scope of England’s alcohol addiction crisis frames the problem as an urgent public health issue which, if not fully confronted, will continue to put the lives and wellbeing of the country’s populations at stake.

According to the latest report, approximately 602,391 people in England meet the criteria of dependent alcohol users. This figure, which also provides a clearer view of the number of people dealing with the devastating consequences of prolonged harmful drinking, is significantly higher than the user prevalence of other substances that the report touched on.

For instance, the report findings point out that around 261,294 people in England are dependent on opiates, whereas 180,748 have a dependence on crack cocaine. These numbers are over three times higher than the prevalence of alcohol dependence in the country.

The alcohol addiction epidemic has extensively ravaged the North compared to other regions in England. To put this into perspective, In Blackpool, northern England, 35 in every 1000 people suffers from alcoholism, compared to Wokingham, Southern England, where six in every 1000 people are battling the illness. As much as these geographic differences exist, the fact remains — alcoholism in England is a country-wide problem.

Perhaps more troubling is the fact that only 107,428 out of the 602,391 battling alcohol dependency were receiving speciality treatment between 2020 and 2021. This means that nearly 82% of problem drinkers in England haven’t sought alcohol addiction treatment services, highlighting the need for effective strategies to encourage professional help-seeking behaviours among people suffering from alcohol dependence.

As in most countries in the UK, alcoholism is still a highly stigmatised problem in England. Due to stigma, disengagement with treatment by dependent alcohol users presents a greater challenge in preventing alcohol-attributable chronic health issues and mortalities in the country. Untreated alcohol addiction leads to a myriad of serious, long-term health problems, such as liver and heart diseases, which in most cases, result in death.

A recently-released government report recognises alcohol dependence as the primary contributor to preventable deaths and poor health outcomes, including injuries and disabilities, among individuals in England aged between 15 to 49 years. The alarming prevalence of alcohol addiction in the country is largely linked to the persistent, problematic drinking behaviours amongst the country dwellers, where low-risk drinking guidelines are often overlooked.

A deeper dive into the numbers reveals a worrying trend. According to findings by Public Health England, more than 10 million people in the country have adopted dangerous drinking habits, increasing their likelihood of developing alcohol dependence and its chronic health effects.

At the same time, the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic put the country’s alcohol consumption trends in the spotlight. A government report on addictions shows a 58.6% spike in heavy drinking habits was recorded in England between the start of the pandemic (March 2020) and in 2021 the same month.

These findings come at a time when the state is considering a wide range of measures to curb the increasing rates of drinking across the UK, including implementing tougher regulations to reduce excessive and sophisticated advertisements on alcoholic drinks, setting a minimum unit pricing, and introducing health warning-labels on alcoholic beverages. Public health experts are optimistic that enforcing these measures will shift England’s drinking habits for the better.

The root causes of England’s drinking crisis aren’t a mystery. The ready availability of alcoholic beverages, never-ending enticements to use alcohol, low public awareness of alcohol addiction treatment opportunities, and little public knowledge of the health dangers of harmful drinking are among the undeniable contributors fueling the country’s alcoholism epidemic.

Most importantly, even as England continues to grapple with the worst addiction in its history, this can’t obscure a hopeful and worth-noting fact — with quality treatment, individuals battling alcoholism can heal from this illness and lead healthy, fulfilling alcohol-free lives.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment and How to Find Professional Help 

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol dependence, entering an alcoholism rehab is a great starting point for your healing. Achieving lasting recovery from this illness requires intensive treatment and support, which you’ll find in a residential rehab.

While in alcoholism rehab, you’ll go through various alcohol addiction treatment programs, particularly medically-assisted detoxification, holistic individual and group therapies for alcoholism, counselling programs, wellness activities, and more.

Completing the residential detox treatment will mark the beginning of your sobriety journey. This process, often facilitated by a team of medical professionals, will allow you to safely and comfortably withdraw from this substance and enable your body to overcome the physical cravings.

Since detox only deals with the physical dependence linked to alcohol addiction, it’s necessary to undergo therapy and counselling sessions to help you defeat the psychological dependence and increase your chances of attaining long-term abstinence from alcohol.

To get in touch with a private rehab provider, consider consulting your GP. They will give you a referral to a suitable facility, including how you can directly communicate with the provider about your treatment needs.

Beyond that, you can also reach out to an alcoholism recovery support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) through their local helpline in your local area. They’ll advise and refer you to an appropriate treatment facility.  Alcohol dependence is a treatable illness, and through rehab, you can find a fresh start in life. 

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