Depends what alcohol dependence is, doesn’t it?

One in ten people in NHS hospitals is alcohol dependent, according to a major study which calls for all patients to be quizzed on their drinking habits.

The study of more than 1.6 million admissions found that one in five people admitted for any reason was drinking at harmful levels.

And one in ten was classed as being dependent on alcohol, the research by Kings College London found.

I assume “harmful levels” is more than 14 units a week. The new and even more made up than the last limit. But what’s dependent?

19 thoughts on “Depends what alcohol dependence is, doesn’t it?”

  1. If 1 in 10 people in hospitals are alcohol dependent shouldnt we be concentrating on NHS staff?

    After all most people never visit hospitals, looks like we have discovered a trend

  2. I’m more interested in how many of these 1.6 million admissions are “alcohol related,” yet alcohol had nothing to do with the admission in question[1].

    Also how many people are being represented by those 1.6 million admissions. (Each repeat visit to get your dressing changed 3 times a week is counted as a separate admission. And if ‘getting a dressing changed’ is considered 0.01 of an alcohol-related admission…)


  3. which calls for all patients to be quizzed on their drinking habits.

    They’ll magically set the ‘safe’ level just below the average consumption level then declare more than half the population are problem drinkers…

  4. They’ll magically set the ‘safe’ level just below the average consumption level …

    That would involve raising it.

  5. Dependent would mean that one could not get by without it. So I am definitely not dependent because I can. Despite *averaging* well over the recommended 14 units I have no problem in going some weeks on no units. [Helped, on occasion, by the choice of drinks on offer – too many times when we’re on holiday my wife chooses a restaurant and I look at the list and choose water.]
    So the journalist is a liar when he says that all the patients who drink more than 14 units are dependent

  6. The Telegraph declares it a ‘major study,’ based on the Telegraph’s rating system.

    ‘calls for all patients to be quizzed on their drinking habits’

    To which all patients respond, “Mind your own fvcking business.”

    ‘“We must wake up to the unacceptable levels of suffering that alcohol is causing our society,” he said.’

    Brits drink to suffer?

    File this under government as jerks. They take over health care, then whine about the cost.

  7. @ Gamecock
    All patients *are* quizzed on their drinking habits.
    It is deduced from their replies and the data on alcohol consumed (since excise duty is paid on alcohol this data is available to government) that patients understate the amount of alcohol that they drink.
    The bigots refuse to accept the idea that moderate drinkers (those between the half and four times the “recommended amount”) are healthier than teetotallers – despite our lower mortality rate being a proven, well-established fact – hence we visit GPs less often.

  8. A friend relates:

    Nurse: How much do you drink?

    Answer: A glass of wine with dinner most evenings.

    Nurse: How big a glass?

    Answer: 125 ml.

    And the nurse wrote down 175 ml. Official government stats, eh?

    Perhaps the GPs at the practice thought “they all lie” and increased it to 250 ml. There’s just no telling.

  9. @ dearieme
    I was referring to total consumption measured via excise duty paid. So your anecdatum shows that the alleged understatement by patients is even more distorted by bigotry than I assumed.

  10. @john 77


    I never drink until after work as even a half-pint with lunch impairs me. When evening out, two pints is my usual limit as I do not want to lose cognitive ability.

  11. Dependent here – I’ll choose to go out by bus or bicycle because it means you can drink or drink more. So my definition is sacrificing the convenience of the car. But is there an international definition?
    Meanwhile in my patch, Hartlepool, the local Lifestyle Intervention team have published data saying we’re in the top 5 LAs for alcohol-related deaths, and in the bottom 5 LAs for people presenting themselves to the NHS for treatment for alcohol related conditions. Very interesting. And then they said this health inequality could be contributing to increased health costs. Er, nope, surely the costs argument runs the other way.

  12. Bloke in North Dorset

    A lot of years ago when it was possible to have a relatively sane discussion on something like this I listened to someone define dependency, as opposed to addiction, as not being able to go 5 days without a drink and worrying about it The key was that the start date had to be chosen at random. That could mean attending eg parties and weddings without drinking.

    At the time it struck me as reasonable and I accepted I was dependent and probably still am.

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