Warning over death rates for older drinkers

12 per cent of parents in a survey had a recent drinking problem

THE IMPACT of alcohol abuse across the generations has been laid bare as death rates among older drinkers have risen dramatically while hundreds of of thousands of teenagers’ lives are being blighted by parents coping with drinking problems.

The Children’s Society estimates there are 700,000 teenagers across the UK whose lives are being “damaged” by parents’ alcohol abuse.

A survey of 3,000 families with children aged 10 to 17 revealed that 12 per cent of parents had a recent history with a drinking problem.

For three in five of these youngsters the same parent is also suffering from depression or anxiety, it added.

The charity added that many teens were “suffering in silence” with problems that would “floor” adults. “The hundreds of thousands of children whose parent has a drinking problem are sadly just the tip of the iceberg of children in desperate need of support,” said Matthew Reed, the charity’s chief executive.

“At a time when demand for council children’s services is rising, severe funding cuts from central government are leaving more and more to deal with these huge problems alone.”

Meanwhile, death rates among 60 to 74-year-old men owing wholly to alcohol abuse have “increased significantly” since 2001, according to the latest figures. The rise is particularly steep among men aged between 70 and 74, where it has surged by around a half from 18.7 per 100,000 population in 2001 to 28 per 100,000 in 2016.

In total, 7,327 people died in the UK last year as a direct result of abusing alcohol.

This equates to a rate of 11.7 deaths per 100,000 population, “significantly higher” than the figure for 2001 (10.6 per 100,000), according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures also show rates among 60 to 64-year-old women have jumped by over a third in the same period.

The rising rates in older age groups may be attributable to the misuse of alcohol that began years or decades previously, the ONS said.

Overall, the death rate among males in 2016 was more than double that for females: 16.2 deaths per 100,000 population for men, against 7.5 for women.

People in deprived areas may suffer the effects of alcohol more than those in affluent ones even if consumption levels are similar, it added.

Dr Tony Rao, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “The latest statistics are a wake-up call to the rising problem of alcohol misuse in a generation of baby boomers that need urgent consideration by our public health and clinical services in the UK. It should also serve to highlight the current deficiency in specialist alcohol services for people with more severe alcohol problems.”

The Department of Health said alcohol-related deaths remain “stable” and they were “looking at what further support we can provide to families to tackle alcohol harms.”

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