Middle-Aged Drinkers Cost The NHS More, Says Alcohol Concern

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The cost of treating alcohol problems for middle-aged people is 13 times higher than the bill for treating teenagers and young adults, a charity said.

Between 2010 and 2011, the taxpayers' bill for the treatment of people aged 55 to 74 who were admitted to hospital for alcohol-related reasons was £825.6 million - 13 times higher than the £63.8 million bill for 16 to 24-year-olds, Alcohol Concern said.

There were 454,317 middle-aged people admitted to hospitals in England compared with 54,682 young adults.

older drinkers

The cost of treating alcohol problems for middle-aged people is 13 times higher

The research, conducted by the charity, also found that the cost for treating men was almost twice as high as the cost for treating women.

The total cost of inpatient admissions partly or wholly attributable to alcohol was £2 billion, a spokesman said.

The charity released a map of alcohol-related health costs so people can see a breakdown of the number of alcohol-related deaths and the number of hospital admissions attributed to alcohol for their region.

Alcohol Concern chief executive Eric Appleby said: "It is the common perception that young people are responsible for the increasing cost of alcohol misuse, but our findings show that in reality this is not the case.

"It is the middle-aged, and often middle class drinker, regularly drinking above recommended limits, who are actually requiring complex and expensive NHS care.

"There needs to be more investment in local alcohol care pathways and services by local authorities for this group, to prevent them from ending up as an in-patient."

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, president of the British Gastroenterology Society, added: "It is the unwitting chronic middle-aged drinkers who are taking serious risks with their health.

"They present in hospital with conditions attributable to their alcohol consumption such as stroke, heart disease, cancer and liver disease.

"People simply do not realise that chronic drinking significantly increases their chances of suffering health problems. Indeed it is these people who are costing the NHS the most."