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 60.

    £2bn is not a scratch on what the country gains in alcohol tax. Stop whinging, put the cotton wool down and pass me another tequila...

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Looks like it's the turn of the middle aged to get it in the neck today.

    Bash the rich, bash the poor, bash the young, bash the old and bash the bishops !

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Not arguing the figures but one point I think we should keep in mind about the figures, the young age group is 16 to 24 = a 8 or 9 year age spread, the older group is 55 to 74 = a 19 or 20 year age spread so a direct comparison of totals is misleading.

    Pre admission its £1,170 for a 16-24 & £4,400 for the 55-74

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    44 Sourdough

    Figures taken from the article, might be best to read it again before commenting? And my tongue now removed from my cheek.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    10. Sue Doughcoup
    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.
    Even though by definition a drinker is a tax payer?

    I fell over leaving a swimming pool last week and nearly broke my leg landing badly. Surely that was self-inflicted too? I swam too long and ended up with rubbery legs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    hey whats the surprise? people within that range group have probably been affected by this govts austerity package. so have turned drink as a result.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    I find it amazing the amount of people who suggest that the links with alcohol and ill health in general are a fabrication. Open your eyes people, this is a highly addictive drug we are talking about here. 9 out of 10 people drink alchohol from the age of 16 upwards, does it really come as a surprise that this results in ill health in later life. It is a poison. Ask your doctor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Maybe there was a ploy by the Baby Boomers, drive up house prices beyond the reach of the majority, cash in on the equity, live the highlife, destroy the economy causing mass youth unemployment. They now have a huge pool of labour who they can pay minimum wage to look after their poorly livers (whilst moaning about how feckless and lazy the younger generations are and of course immigrants too)

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Between the public health + the future & current tax they could get, the government (lab or con) will choose the latter. They are only going to be in power for 4 years anyway, who cares about what will happen in the future. Even better if it happens on the other's watch, that would guarantee their election victory.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    It's strange how my Grandmother was drinking up until the day she died, by the way, she was 102 years old. I'm really hoping it runs in the family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Re 42 - I'm a border line baby boomer however we do have a society that has disproportionally advantaged a generation. Pensions are paid for by those working today, not 30 years ago. Pension additions (winter fuel), were never contributed towards by those receiving them but based on inaccurate growth projections. That is why I must work to 68 and probably get nothing in return like many others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    If you've lived to 74 you deserve a drink - and don't let any snake oil merchant tell you any different.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Well, as a 64 year-old baby boomer I find it very refreshing that we are not blaming everything on the youth of today!

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Check this out. Approx £7Bn of tax revenue is raised on drink. Page five

    They cannot have it both ways.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    As a baby boomer can I say I really love you, you're my mate, no no no you're my best mate, have you got my drink? Give it back! Who's that over there? Was all this about older drinkers, we know how to drink! Not like them youngsters. I'll av another one, just one more!
    Hang on where is everyone? I really love you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    10.Sue Doughcoup

    An interesting concept! perhaps we should take all lifestyle choices out of the NHS juridiction; damage yourself from over exercising; skin cancer from over exposure to the sun; colon cancer because you didn't eat enough roughage . . . the list is endless! What a ridiculous idea!

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    22 ChrisLondon

    I find your figures very difficult to believe and I assume that neither you nor your family have used the NHS for anything else before so naturally there is plenty of money your personal tax kitty to pay for any treatment. No wonder the NHS is overstretched with attitudes like this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    @Milly 82 Correct, this is chronic disease versus acute problems and so they are not directly comparable.

    However, in terms of taking risks such as drink-driving friom my experience it is the generally the older folk (50+) who seem to think that this is still acceptable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Yet another HYS opened for opportunistic Baby Boomer Criticism from the BBC! Now that is becoming to be quite an addictive and unhealthy habit by the BBC in recent times - almost verging on ageism?

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    BREAKING NEWS: Old people get ill with various primary and secondary causes for their ailments. More at 12...


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