A report just released by the UK government puts the total cost of alcohol abuse in Britain at a staggering £20 billion per year. That’s right, when you total all the hidden costs of alcohol on the national economy and divide it by the total population of 64 million, it comes to just over £312 per person. Here are some of the data points:
- 17 million work days lost to hangovers – costing employers £6.4 billion per year
- Cleaning up alcohol related crime – £7.3 billion
- 1 in 26 hospital “bed days” occupied by alcohol related illness. 4/10 casualty visits alcohol related, rising to 7/10 at weekends after pub closing time
- Hidden “social costs” tagged at £6 billion per year (1.2 million cases of alcohol related violence per year, 16year olds drinking twice as much as 10 tears ago)
- 40% of men and 22% of women binge drink
Home Office Minister Hazel Blears is calling for better education about the dangers of alcohol. She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
“I think young people will say to you that we get lots of information about drugs but perhaps we don’t get as much information about alcohol as we really need to get,” “We have got to try to get into a culture that the whole of our entertainment isn’t just about alcohol. It should be about the theatre, about cinema, about bowling – about a range of things.”
Ministers intend to draw up a strategy to combat the above problems and they intend to implement it next year. Observers have noted that a great deal of money may need to be thrown at the problem. “The recently-announced £250 million Smirnoff vodka revamp represents more than double the amount spent on alcohol treatment and counselling services across the country,” said chief executive Eric Appleby of Charity Alcohol Concern.
Because alcohol consumption is seen as such a “normal” part of life in Britain, it is easy to lose site of the bigger picture. Brits regularly consume levels of alcohol that leave their European neighbours shaking their heads in disbelief. And they tend to drink purely for the purpose of getting plastered, rather than as part of a cultural evening surrounded by food, culture and family.
The government may have a tall order to deliver, considering the imbedded cultural differences between Europe and the UK, but the intended lessons to be learned may well be worth the attempt. Let’s hope that any increases in funding are spent wisely on both education and treatment.
If you are concerned that either you or a loved one has crossed the line from alcohol abuse into alcohol dependency (alcoholism) feel free to get in touch on the number below. Our residential alcohol detox and rehab programmes are highly successful and have helped hundreds of people to kick their bad habit for good