Addiction services hit the headlines

Last week the College’s news story about addiction services not being equipped to treat the 8 million people drinking at high risk during the pandemic made the headlines.  

New analysis of the latest PHE data found that nearly 8.5 million adults are drinking at high risk, while the number of people addicted to opiates seeking help in April is at the highest level since 2015.  

We warned that addiction services in England are not equipped to treat the soaring numbers of people drinking at high risk during the pandemic and must receive a multi-million-pound funding boost in the upcoming spending review.  

Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Addiction services have been starved of funding in recent years meaning many are not able to treat and care for the huge numbers of people who are drinking at high risk. 

“More lives will be needlessly lost to addiction unless the Government acts now and commits to substantial investment in public health, including adult addiction services, in the Spending Review. 

“I urge the government to implement the recommendations in our report which would see mental health services expand to be the biggest in Europe, with a much-needed focus on tackling inequalities.”    

Professor Julia Sinclair, Chair of the College’s Addictions Faculty, said: “COVID-19 has shown just how stretched, under-resourced and ill-equipped addiction services are to treat the growing numbers of vulnerable people living with this complex illness.  

“There are now only five NHS inpatient units in the country and no resource anywhere in my region to admit people who are alcohol dependent with co-existing mental illness. 

“Drug-related deaths and alcohol-related hospital admissions were already at all-time highs before COVID-19. I fear that unless the government acts quickly we will see these numbers rise exponentially.” 

The story reached a potential audience of over 200 million people and attracted more than 800 pieces of coverage - from BBC News and the Today Programme, to The Guardian and from The Telegraph and Independent, to Sky News and the Daily Mail.  

Read the full story in our news section.

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