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Pandemic places pressure on addiction services

Tuesday September 15th 2020

The pandemic lockdown triggered a huge upsurge in heavy drinking – leaving addiction services ill-equipped to deal with the problems, psychiatrists say today.

The lockdown has nearly doubled the number of high risk drinkers in England, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

It found that numbers increased from 4.8 million in February to 8.4 million during lockdown.

The college is calling for some £374 million to be spent through local councils to extend addiction services.

Its report on “next steps” for funding mental health care also calls for £43 million for children’s drug and alcohol services.

President Dr Adrian James 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.”

https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/

Tags: Drug & Alcohol Abuse | Flu & Viruses | Mental Health | UK News

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