Drink deaths will cost an extra 250,000 lives by 2031

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Drink deaths will cost an extra 250,000 lives by 2031 Source – The Guardian Up to 250,000 people could die because of alcohol over the next 20 years unless ministers take strong action to tackle Britain’s chronic drink problems, leading doctors are warning.

The prediction comes in the edition of the Lancet medical journal by three senior experts on alcohol, two of whom are advising the coalition on how to reduce drink-related harm. In a scathing critique of the government’s approach to alcohol, the trio accuses ministers of pursuing policies that will make no difference to the soaring rates of drink-related liver disease. Ministers, including the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, are “too close” to the drinks industry and too reluctant to take effective steps, they say. They welcome the government’s decision to continue raising the cost of drinks at 2% above inflation.


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However, “plans to ban the sale of alcohol beverages below cost (duty plus VAT) and to increase duty on beer over 7.5% strength is inconsequential because of the tiny fraction of sales that fall into either category”, write Dr Nick Sheron, Professor Ian Gilmore and Professor Chris Hawkey.

“These policies suggest that the government remains too close to the industry and lacks clear aspiration to reduce the impact of cheap, readily available, and heavily marketed alcohol on individuals and on society,” they write.

Sheron, a clinical hepatologist, and Gilmore, the chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance of medical groups and charities, both serve on the Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network along with representatives of the drinks industry.

The doctors estimated how many lives would be saved or lost in England and Wales by 2031, depending on whether ministers pursued a strategy of only minimal change or robust regulation, over and above those that are already expected on current trends. Liver deaths have more than doubled in the UK since 1986.

Introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol and adopting a French-style ban on drink advertising and sponsorship could together see liver death rates fall from the existing estimate of 18,000-30,000 to just 2,500 by 2019, they calculate. But allowing the current upward trajectory of such mortality to continue unchecked would lead to 77,000 extra liver deaths by 2031. However, the wider harms from alcohol, such as deaths from accidents and violence, could mean that as many as 160,000 to 250,000 lives are lost or saved over the next two decades, depending on whether effective action is taken or not.

Historical precedents, such as action to tackle the gin epidemic of 1730-50 and the Defence of the Realm Act in 1914, show that raising the price of alcohol and restricting its availability are the two proven ways of reducing drink-related harm, the authors argue. Yet ministers, they say, have rejected major changes in both areas.

“How many more people have to die from alcohol-related conditions, and how many more families devastated by the consequences before the government takes the situation as seriously as it took the dangers of tobacco?” asked Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, which represents hospital doctors.

He accused ministers of ignoring international evidence showing that price rises and reduced availability are the best two ways to reduce the consumption of alcohol. “Just as the government would expect us to treat our patients with effective medicines, we expect the government to take much stronger action to protect people from alcohol-related harm,” he said. “When will that happen?” The Department of Health rejected the doctors’ views. “The government has wasted no time in taking tough action to tackle problem drinking, including plans to stop supermarkets selling below-cost alcohol and working to introduce a tougher licensing regime,” said a spokeswoman. Reforming public health would also help, and there will be a new alcohol strategy in the summer, she added.


Related How to Stop Drinking Alcohol for Good (Backed by Science)

 

Survey reveals cost of alcohol abuse

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The price of a drink Survey reveals cost of alcohol abuse Source – The Guardian

The toll that alcohol takes on many people’s lives is laid bare in a survey which has prompted fresh calls for action to tackle widespread chronic drinking across Britain. Alcohol’s role in everything from injury and relationship breakdown to trouble with the police, emerges in a poll commissioned by a group of senior doctors. Some 11% of people polled have seen a friend or relative’s relationship end as a direct result of heavy drinking. One in five (21%) know someone who has driven while over the legal alcohol limit. And 51% know someone who has been a victim of drink-related violence, or has been attacked themselves. The survey also found that 14% of children are being brought up in a family where at least one adult has a drink problem.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG), paints a graphic picture of alcohol’s many negative consequences. The survey of 2,221 people found that: – 14% admit they have injured themselves while drunk; 2% have injured others. – 43% know at least one person with a drink problem, and 5% say they know more than five people. – 12% have a family member who they believe drinks too much. – 13% go to work at least occasionally feeling unwell due to a heavy drinking session, and 9% have taken time off for that reason. – 4% of women and 1% of men have been involved in domestic abuse linked to alcohol. – 11% know someone who has had to be treated in A&E because of alcohol. – 5% of men have ended up in trouble with the police for that reason. Young people are disproportionately likely to suffer harm.

Some 27% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 31% of 25 to 34-year-olds admit injuring themselves while drunk, while 12% and 15% respectively of the same age groups have taken time off work due to drink. “These findings show there’s a big problem in terms of harm, aggression, antisocial behaviour and actually some very sad outcomes,” said BSG spokesman Professor Chris Hawkey. “Dysfunctional and violent behaviour due to alcohol have become social norms. There used to be shame attached to alcohol dependence and its consequences, but clearly there’s much less of that around now.” He called on ministers to introduce a minimum price of 50p a unit and implement tough restrictions on the advertising of alcohol based on those in France, which bans drink ads on TV and in the cinema, and forbids alcohol sponsorship of sporting or cultural events.

Alcohol Concern, which represents drink treatment services, said the poll undermined industry claims that only a small number of people were affected by excess consumption. “This research shows drunkenness has become a cultural norm and is negatively impacting the lives of millions of people, many of whom are responsible drinkers,” said Don Shenker, the charity’s chief executive. He also called for tougher action against drinks retailers and promoters. “Their irresponsible practices are creating the mirage that drinking is a social right with no consequences.

The reality is far from that. What we have is alcohol being sold for pennies and an accepted culture of excess which blights our town centres and affects friends, neighbours and loved ones,” he added.Professor Steve Field, until recently president of the Royal College of GPs, welcomed the coalition’s plan to ban the sale of alcohol at below cost price. “This is a step in the right direction,” Field said, but added : “The policy must be kept under review: if it is not shown to make a difference on the public’s health, and on antisocial behaviour, then I would urge ministers to look again at a minimum price per unit of alcohol.” A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The majority of people drink responsibly but these findings reflect that alcohol consumption is a serious problem for too many. No one thing will solve this complex challenge of alcohol misuse and the Government is taking action on all fronts including banning the sale of alcohol below cost price and giving local authorities more power over local licensing decisions.” She added: “It is not clear that national minimum unit pricing is the best way to reduce harm so we need to look at other options in England.” Return to All News

United States FDA Concerned Over Caffeine

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The US Federal Drug Administration has issued warnings targeting specific drinks in a clampdown on alcoholic beverages with a high caffeine content. The drinks in question are mostly seen in the States, and are malt based and premixed drinks. The FDA is concerned that the drinks labelling does not state that adding caffeine is “generally recognised as safe”. In some cases, the drinks contained other stimulants alongside caffeine itself. The FDA website claims that they have data and expert opinion that caffeine can: “…mask sensory cues that people rely on to determine how intoxicated they are.

Binge Drinkers Double Their Risk of Heart Disease

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A study conducted by the Toulouse University Hospital, and published in the British Medical Journal, into the link between drinking habits and health have concluded that although their French participants drank more regularly than the Irish, it was the Irish binge drinking habit that resulted in higher levels of poor heart health.

The study compared the men’s choice of drinks, amount of drinks and regularity of drinking as well as their standard of overall health over a ten year period. The findings were that even if the French and Irish men drank the same amounts, over time it was the regularity and type of alcohol that had the most effect on the results. The Irish men tended to drink over the recommended amounts in single ‘sessions’, what is classified as Binge Drinking, where their French counterparts tended to drink smaller amounts, more regularly. The research found that three quarters of the French men tended to drink every day compared to 12% of the Irish, but although drinking more often they drank considerably less each time. Only 0.5% of the French admitted to drinking 5 small wines, or 3 pints of beer/lager in one sitting.

In Ireland, that number shoots to 9%. With the numbers involved, that means that although 7,500 French men admitted drinking daily compared to the Irish 1,200, only 50 French men could be considered ‘binge drinkers’ compared to 900 Irish. The 10 year follow up found that the binge drinking men had double the risk of heart attacks or death form heart disease than the regular drinkers. A representative of the British Heart Foundation, senior cardiac nurse Amy Thompson, has stated: “This reinforces what we already know, that drinking high levels of alcohol can be harmful to your heart.” The British Medical Journal The British Heart Foundation.

SNP vs MSPs in Minimum Pricing Debate

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05 November 2010 The First Minister Alex Salmond has re-ignited the minimum pricing debate in Holyrood, as he challenged Members of the Scottish Parliament to back the now notorious element of the controversial Alcohol Bill. Appealing to the MSP’s sense of ‘leadership’ he asked them to put aside their personal opposition to the bill; saying: “.. the cost of alcohol is key in terms of consumption levels. Yet, to date, no credible alternative proposals for tackling the low cost of alcohol have been put forward.” “This Parliament now has the opportunity to show some leadership by supporting the minimum price proposals.” The legislation has already faced various set-backs, and has been roundly rejected on various occasions by the sitting government. Return to Abbeycare News. Go Back 1 : Go Forward 1 Return to All News

Alcohol Age Rise Plan Rejected

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Scottish Government plans to allow the minimum age for buying alcohol from off-sales to be raised from 18 to 21 have been rejected by MSPs. The SNP administration wanted to let local licensing boards ban off-license sales to under 21s but the move was blocked by Holyrood’s Health Committee. It is the latest blow to the Scottish Governments alcohol Bill. Last week, Labour, Lib Dem and Tory MSPs voted to remove a measure setting a minimum price for alcohol. Opposition MSPs have now said the move to raise the purchase age would discriminate against young people.

Caffeinated Alcohol Ban Considered

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The Scottish Government will “carefully consider” Labour calls to ban caffeinated alcoholic drinks,

Nicola Sturgeon the Health Secretary has stated. The move would actually put a limit on the amount of caffeine allowed in a drink by law, effectively banning drinks like the notorious Buckfast Tonic wine, which relies heavily on its high caffeine content for its popularity. Miss Sturgeon has insisted that there is no evidence that this move alone would protect health or prevent crime in line with European Law. Experts told Holyrood’s Health Committee on Wednesday there was no evidence to suggest the tonic wine caused or increased violence. Ms Sturgeon told MSP’s during First Minister’s Questions: “I have consistently said that I remain open to the consideration of any proposals by Labour or others that I would contribute to reducing alcohol related harm.

Abbeycare 92% Successful Treatment Through Recovery

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We have a 92% successful treatment through recovery rate here at Abbeycare, having monitored and analysed completion rates of our clients at Abbeycare alcohol treatment clinic .

Completion rates were highest for intensive inpatient alcohol treatment (92%). We have established that factors associated with treatment completion included a thorough screening and assessment at the point of admission, education, age, ethnicity, and existence of a secondary drug problem.

We have concluded that most importantly the fit between clients and treatment programs is the single most important factor in explaining why some clients complete treatment and others drop out.

That is why at Abbeycare we will work with the person to identify their needs and the best pathway for them on their own journey to recovery by offering the full variety of evidence based pathways.

Alcohol Poisoning Treatment

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Alcohol poisoning is more than often a result of binge drinking and if it happens it may be worth seeking alcohol treatment. Alcohol Poisoning occurs when a person drinks too much alcohol in a short space of time. Alcohol treatment can help identify whether a person is regularly putting themselves at risk of alcohol poisoning.

Essentially the central nervous system is impacted when too much alcohol is consumed, which makes breathing and heart rate slow down, and perhaps most importantly while also compromising your gag reflex.

It is extremely important that alcohol poisoning is dealt with as soon as possible if they are not the consequences can be deadly. Beware! Telling the person in question to drink coffee, sleep it off or be sick will NOT help them.

What are the symptoms of alcohol poisoning?

  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular or slow breathing
  • Blue-tinged or pale skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Being conscious but unresponsive
  • Unconsciousness passing out
  • Seizures can also become apparent

Treatment for alcohol poisoning

Hydrating the patient and making sure oxygen intake is adequate is very important to recovery. As stated before, binge drinking is one of the main causes of alcohol poisoning.

Binge drinking can cause a number of injuries, overdoses and mental health problems. If you think you or someone close to you binge drinks, it may be time to seek alcohol treatment or rehab help. When a person binge drinks it indicates that they may have a serious alcohol problem.

Signs and Symptoms of Binge drinking

It is very easy to be and remain in denial about our own or loved one’s addiction. If you recognise these signs and symptoms of binge drinking or alcohol abuse it may be time to seek alcohol treatment.

  • Increase in alcohol tolerance
  • Drinking to relieve stress or emotional pain
  • Memory blackouts
  • Lost interest in usual activities
  • Money troubles
  • Physical deterioration
  • Avoiding family and friends
  • Many failed attempts to control or stop alcohol dependence
  • An urgency to have that “first drink”
  • Has dark moods and is irritable
  • Guilt and remorse about drinking dependence
  • Lack of concentration

 


Related How to Stop Drinking Alcohol for Good (Backed by Science)

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

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You withdraw from alcohol only after you have become dependent on alcohol. In other words, once your body and mind have become used to the presence of alcohol in your system, you are liable to suffer physical and emotional distress when the alcohol is removed.

Typical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • exaggerated trembling
  • sweating
  • shivering
  • blurred vision
  • short-term confusion
  • hyperventilation and panic

 

However, the clearest indication of alcohol withdrawal is that the other symptoms are quickly eliminated when you take another drink. Putting alcohol back into your system makes you stop panicking, restores your composure, and soon the trembling and sweating passes.

Having experienced withdrawal a first time, you may become anxious just at the thought of being without alcohol. As a result, the need to obtain more alcohol is likely to be in your mind throughout the day. Likewise, your first thought after waking up (because you’ve had a few hours without alcohol) is likely to be about drink.

Alcohol withdrawal is NOT a bad hangover, although it shares symptoms in common with a hangover. A hangover is a sign that you have drunk too much, and the effects soon pass. Withdrawal is a sign that you need more alcohol in order just to function, and the symptoms will get worse and worse as the hour’s pass.

If you are alcohol dependent, then withdrawal may be a devastating – and potentially fatal – experience. Neither you nor anybody with you should underestimate the impact of withdrawal. When you suddenly remove alcohol from your system, then you run many risks, including the possibility of a seizure, as well as becoming unable to negotiate stairs, or use cars, kitchens or bathrooms safely. You are also liable to panic, and eventually will probably be driven to obtain more alcohol ‘at any cost’.

If you suffer alcohol withdrawal, the clear advice is that you should not suddenly stop drinking alcohol except under medical supervision. Instead, you must moderate your alcohol intake, then seek help and support immediately to enable you to quit safely and effectively.