Over-40s most likely to be drink casualties

High numbers of people in their 40s are being admitted to hospital for alcohol and drug abuse, while binge drinking is declining, a report has said.

Analysis by data firm Dr Foster shows drug and alcohol dependence accounts for 19 per cent of emergency admissions among those aged 40 to 44 – the highest proportion of any age group.

Among those aged 45 to 49, 18 per cent of emergency admissions are for drink and drugs.

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Meanwhile, the impact of binge drinking on hospitals is declining, but the profile of binge drinkers is older than it was a decade ago.

In 2002/3, the typical age for an admission to hospital due to binge drinking was 16, rising to 19 in 2004/5 and 32 in 2012/13.

Nevertheless, teenagers and people in their 20s are still more likely to be admitted to hospital more often for binge drinking than older people.

The report found that more than 500,000 people have been hospitalised for drug and alcohol abuse at least once in the past three years, with 120,000 of those admissions for people in their 40s.

That is about twice the number of people in their 20s or 60s. The typical age for those admitted was 43 in 2012/13, up from 41 in 2002/3.

Of all drug and alcohol patients admitted in 2012/13, 36 per cent had been admitted more than once previously while 5 per cent had five or more admissions.

Problems arising from drugs and alcohol also affect more people in poorer groups – 36 per cent were from the most deprived areas of the country compared with 9 per cent from the wealthiest fifth of the population.

Dr Foster’s director of research, Roger Taylor, said: “Attitudes and behaviour among the young with regard to drugs and alcohol are improving but the same cannot be said about their parents. However, and worryingly, we expect the figures we have shown here to underestimate slightly the actual amount of patients admitted to hospitals with such problems.”