A recent government report shows that hospital admissions due to alcohol have more than doubled in 9 years.
“It’s encouraging to see that more people are getting help for problems with alcohol” said a Department of Health spokesperson, quoted in the Telegraph, ignoring the fact that only about one in 17 people with alcohol problems get expert help.
But what does the government promise to do about the drinking epidemic? If we look at the next part of our anonymous Health Department source we can get a clue: “we are already improving prevention by funding alcohol risk assessments at GPs and encouraging increased access to alcohol liaison nurses in hospitals.”
But GPs are not trained to treat alcoholism and they are no longer allowed to send patients into residential rehab. For patients who are addicted to heroin or hard drugs they can offer a substitute addiction – methadone – but for alcohol the only drug they can offer is antabuse which creates a violent reaction with alcohol but, according to this source, “it does not reduce the person’s craving for alcohol, nor does it treat any alcohol withdrawal symptoms.”
What can be done? The key thing that all British political parties need to do is accept the fact that the abstinence based approach of Alcoholics Anonymous really does work; these community groups have helped millions of people all over the world and every evening thousands of AA meetings take place, helping adherents live “a day at a time.”