English addiction services on brink as number of higher-risk drinkers doubles

A near-doubling in the number of higher-risk drinkers during lockdown has led to warnings that addiction services in England are struggling to cope and in dire need of extra funding.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists analysed data from Public Health England showing the prevalence of people drinking at higher risk was at almost a fifth (19%) in June, up from 10.8% in February.


Using population estimates from the Office for National Statistics, the college said the June figure equated to more than 8.4 million people, a rise from around 4.8 million four months earlier. Higher-risk consumption is defined as drinking more alcohol than the recommended levels of no more than 14 units a week for men and women.

Dr Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the government must commit to substantial investment in public health to prevent more lives from being "needlessly lost" to addiction.

A report by the college, published on Tuesday, is calling on ministers to reverse cuts and help local authorities work towards investing £374m into adult services to address the increased need for treatment.

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