Baby boomer alcohol harm 'more likely than in young'

Glasses of wine A variety of methods have been used by countries to try to curb problem drinking

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More NHS money is spent treating alcohol-related illness in baby boomers than young people, a study says.

The Alcohol Concern report found the cost of hospital admissions linked to heavy drinking among 55 to 74-year-olds in 2010-11 was more than £825m.

That was 10 times the figure for 16 to 24-year-olds.

In total, nearly £2bn was spent on alcohol-related in-patient admissions in England, the report found.

This comes as more than 10 million people in England are drinking above the recommended levels, according to the report.

The sum spent on treating the baby boomer generation went on 454,317 patients, compared with the 54,682 under-24s who were treated at a cost of £64m.

Problem drinking is a contributing factor for a host of diseases, including liver, kidney and heart disease, as well as increasing the risk of injury.

Graphic showing cost of admissions

In many ways the findings are not surprising as the effects of drinking are more likely to catch up with people later in life.

'Expensive care'

But the charity said part of the reason for compiling the report, which was based on NHS figures, was to break down the data by individual local authority area.

Start Quote

It is the unwitting chronic middle-aged drinkers who are taking serious risks with their health”

End Quote Sir Ian Gilmore Liver disease expert

The figures have been collated in a clickable map.

It hopes the information, compiled with funding from drug company Lundbeck, will be used by councils next year when they take responsibility for problem drinking as part of their new remit covering public health under the shake-up of the NHS.

Alcohol Concern chief executive Eric Appleby said he hoped they would use the findings to help them focus their energy on schemes to tackle problem drinking.

"It is a 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 this complex and expensive NHS care."

Liver disease expert Sir Ian Gilmore, a former president of the Royal College of Physicians, who has long campaigned about alcohol misuse, agreed. He said: "It is the unwitting chronic middle-aged drinkers who are taking serious risks with their health."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    So, what do these stats actually mean? In one group the age range includes 2 years worth of people who are not permitted to buy alchohol, so that slews the results, further, the two ranges are completely different; 16 to 2 is only 8 years, whereas 55 to 74 is nearly 20 years. How is possible to accurately make a comparison? Does it consider that young people are more resilient than older people?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Alcohol isn't a drug, it's a drink ©Chris Morris

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    You may all scoff and grumble, but I guarantee you this. You watch a loved one lose thier lives to cirrhosis or chronic liver disease and sure as eggs are eggs, you will soon change your tune.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Of course they'll be more admissions for older people. Unless you're a real alcy, it'll take 20/30 years for your liver to start to pack up. Younger bodies deal with the abuse for years before problems start.
    I wonder what the figures would be for admissions from car accidents caused by drink driving? I suspect it would be a reverse of the other admissions for health problems related to drinking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Perhaps we should stop treating alcohol induced ailments. Like G Best. By all means live it up do things that you know are bad for you, just take the consequences. It has many attractions not to waste a life eating rabbit food food for a life of interminable unpleasant tedium. We will not afford to be old for ages anyway, the myth of long rich retirement is disappearing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Is it wrong that I find this a little amusing?
    I'm frequently disturbed by the way in which our youth are constantly damned by those older, all knowing generations.
    Now we find that the contant whining by emergency services over which taxpayer is costing them time and money us being targeted at the entirely wrong generation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Strange, as my Mother died of cancer and my Uncle died of a heart attack. Both were non drinkers

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Alcohol related illnesses should be out of the NHS's jurisdiction. They are self inflicted and treatment costs should not be picked up by the taxpayer. End of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I'm assuming it's that post-rationing psychology. People my parents' age have known scarcity so they tend to really live it up in times of plenty.

    They tell me a bottle of wine used to see them through the week; now it's to see them through Newsnight!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Er. Would that be because the baby boomers have been drinking for a lot more years?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Basically it says people of retirement age (pretty much the peak age for cancer & heart disease anyway) are costing the NHS just 2% of its annual budget to treat a range of diseases to which alcohol is only one risk factor.

    This is news?

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    It seems strange comparing total spend on an age group spanning 8 years against one spanning 19 years. It would surely be more accurate to refer to the average cost per person in each age group...

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Yet more targeted vilification. How long is all this kind of rubbish going to go on? Just leave people alone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    As a baby boomer,this surprises me and that's probably because all the publicity in the media is directed at binge drinking in the young.You see a lot of images of them being drunk in the streets whereas I daresay the older generation are just bingeing more privately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I can see this. I used to have bottle of wine on a Friday. This became Friday + Wednesday. Monday looked pretty useful too :) Realised what was happening then restricted to Friday only. Lost weight, felt better, more energy, better sleep. It is easy to fall into the trap as wine is more acceptable to middle classes and these are stressful times. The wine doesn't alter the stress, only masks it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    OH NO!!!!! yet another pressure group raising its profile with scare stories. Please can we stop treating these sorts of findings as news and see them for what they are, self publicising reports generated to attract / secure funding. They really get on my wick.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Can we compare this to how much tax is raised from the sale of all this alcohol. Or how much tax these people have paid over their lives and received nothing in return.

    Oh let's all eat salads and drink tap water all our lives, then die at 150. Sure the state can support that too.


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