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 66.

    I wonder how much this research cost?

    Is it really news that people over the age of 55 are more susceptible to any sort of illness than 16 to 24 year olds? Add in 30 years more drinking to the age factor and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work this out.

  • 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 34.

    Go down the (non-student) pub during the day - it's hardly new that the retired and approaching retired drink. I'm sure they're also a burden on the NHS as they grow old and their bodies begin to fail - helped by lifestyle choices or not.

    I probably won't have a state pension if I make it to retirement age (whatever that'll be in 35 odd years), so excuse me whilst I pickle myself down the pub!

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    As some of these diseases are chronic, for example liver disease, it stands to reason that the older generation are more afflicted. In the long run things aren't likely to get any better!

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    I'm in this age group, but have never been a drinker or smoker or ever gambled. I'm not sure why, perhaps a strict C of E upbringing, but these these things never interested me in the late 1970's when it was the norm to drink and smoke.

    However I'm glad I have never indulged as I work with people a bit older than me that have drunk and smoked and they look about 80 years old.


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