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Who is at risk and why?

Background papers: Lifestyle and wider determinants :: Alcohol [Update in progress] :: Who is at risk and why?

In 2009–10 4,418 people in Medway (1,570 people per 100,000 population) were admitted to hospital for alcohol-related harm. These figures reflect not only admission for alcohol specific conditions (e.g. alcoholic mental or behavioural problems and alcoholic liver disease) but also the significant contribution of alcohol misuse to increased cardiovascular, gastroenterological and cancer admissions: also admissions due to accidents on the road, in the workplace and in the home (including falls).
Higher risk drinkers are at significantly greater risk of developing alcohol–related health harms.

Men Women
4 times Double
Double 4 times
1.7 times 1.3 times
Triple Double
13 times 13 times
4–5.5 times 4–5.5 times
1.5 times
Table 1: Increased risks of ill health to harmful drinkers

Research and statistics have consistently shown that:


• Men consume more alcohol than women. However, drinking varies greatly across age and socio–economic group, resulting in a complex picture of alcohol consumption and alcohol–related harm across gender.[1]
• National Alcohol segmentation analysis of Hospital Episode Statistics data[2] shows that those at highest risk of being admitted to hospital with a primary or secondary diagnosis that was linked to alcohol, are men aged over 35 who work in an unskilled or manual field or are unemployed.
• People from most minority ethnic groups have higher rates of abstention and lower rates of consumption than the majority white ethnic group. However, drinking varies greatly both between and within minority ethnic groups and across gender and socio–economic group, resulting in a very complex national picture of alcohol consumption and alcohol–related harm across ethnicity.[3]
• For women living in the most deprived areas, alcohol–related death rates are three times higher than for those living in the least deprived areas. For men living in the most deprived areas, this is even worse: alcohol–related death rates are over five times higher than for those living in the least deprived areas.[4]
• Offenders in the criminal justice system are more likely than the general population to be drinking at increasing and higher risk levels. For example, the Social Exclusion Unit, [2002] notes that 63% of men in the prison population report drinking at hazardous levels, compared with 38% of men in the general population.
• Results from a number of small studies in the UK suggest that there are higher levels of alcohol misuse among lesbian, gay and bisexual people.[4]
• People with mental health problems are at increased risk of alcohol misuse. Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and suicide are all associated with alcohol dependence.[3]


References

[1]   Burr T. Reducing Alcohol Harm: health services in England for alcohol misuse 2008; National Audit Office. http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/0708/reducing_alcohol_harm.aspx .
[2]   Morleo M, Dedman D, O'Farrell I, et al. Alcohol-attributable hospital admissions: segmentation series report 3 2010; Liverpool Centre for Public Health and North West Public Health Observatory. http://www.cph.org.uk/showPublication.aspx?pubid=640 .
[3]   Thom B, Lloyd C, Hurcombe R, et al. Report to the Department of Health:- Black and Minority Ethnic Groups and Alcohol: A scoping and consultation study 2010; Middlesex University, London and University of York, York and North West Public Health Observatory. http://www.alcohollearningcentre.org.uk/_library/BME_report_final_draft_30_July_2010_v4.pdf .
[4]   Ellinas T, Garland L, Gohil D, et al. Alcohol misuse: tackling the UK epidemic 2008; BMA Board of Science. http://www.bma.org.uk/images/Alcoholmisuse_tcm41-147192.pdf .