DDN February 2022 February 2022 | Page 4


Heaviest drinkers bought significantly more alcohol during lockdowns

People who were already at risk of alcohol harm bought ‘ significantly ’ more alcohol during COVID-19 lockdowns , according to a study by Newcastle University and the National Institute for Health Research ( NIHR ). People in the top fifth of households for alcohol purchases bought 17 times more alcohol from retail outlets than the bottom fifth , says The COVID-19 alcohol paradox : British household purchases during 2020 compared with 2015-2019 .

The research covers the March to June 2020 lockdown period and echoes previous studies which found that those already drinking the most increased their consumption during lockdowns . Households in the North were buying the most alcohol , the study found , with the North East of England consistently recording the highest alcohol-related death and hospital admission rates .
Researchers analysed shopping data from almost 80,000 households
THOUSANDS OF YOUNG PEOPLE with substance issues are ‘ falling through the cracks ’ thanks to a perfect storm of the pandemic on top of years of cuts , according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists ( RCPsych ). Analysis of NDTMS data shows that the number of under-18s in treatment fell by almost 25 per cent between 2019-20 and 2020-21 to just over 11,000 – 55 per cent fewer than in 2008-09 .
Most young people are in treatment for problems with cannabis ( 89 per cent ), followed by alcohol ( 41 per cent ), ecstasy ( 12 per cent ) and powder cocaine ( 9 per cent ). Further analysis of data from the Department for Levelling over a five-year period , which included around 5m purchases of alcohol . The average purchase per adult in the top fifth group was around 38 units per week – however , as this was averaged out per household it could mean that people in some households were ‘ drinking much more than this amount ’. Households in the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber regions increased their purchases more than in any other part of the UK , ‘ with the suggestion that this is probably because the North has more socially disadvantaged , heavier-purchasing households ’. Less pronounced purchasing increases in Scotland and Wales could be down to the implementation of MUP , say the researchers .
‘ Our analysis has highlighted that the heaviest drinkers and those living in some of the most deprived communities in the UK have increased their household alcohol purchases significantly during COVID-19 lockdown periods , with

‘ Perfect storm ’ in young people ’ s services

Up , Housing and Communities found that the amount spent on young people ’ s substance services had fallen in real terms by more than 40 per cent since 2013-14 , from almost £ 74m to just over £ 43m . Every region in England had made real-terms cuts over the period , including of more than 60 per cent in the West Midlands .
‘ Children and their families up and down the country are having their lives blighted by drug and alcohol use due to drastic cuts , workforce shortages , and the impact of the pandemic ,’ said vice chair of RCPsych ’ s addictions faculty , Dr Emily Finch . ‘ Addiction is a treatable health condition . Intervening early will mean undoubted consequences for both physical and mental health – and in many thousands of cases sadly leading to death ,’ said lead author Professor Peter Anderson . ‘ This suggests that a focus on policies to reduce high levels of drinking are even more important in extraordinary times , such as those we ’ ve seen since March 2020 – where a complex range of factors can lead to higher and potentially dangerous levels of longer-term drinking .’
The findings have renewed calls for MUP to be implemented in England . ‘ The alcohol harm crisis will continue to deepen if the government doesn ’ t take action now ,’ said Alcohol Health Alliance chair Professor Sir Ian Gilmore . ‘ By failing to implement minimum unit pricing as part of its plans for public health , England is now falling further behind the rest of the UK in the race to tackle alcohol harm .’
Study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE at https :// journals . plos . org / plosone /
Spending on young people ' s services has fallen by more than 40 per cent since 2013 .
many kids won ’ t go on to have an addiction in their adulthood , keeping them out of the criminal justice system and helping them to live full lives . It ’ s now time for the government to act on their promise and deliver the multimillion-pound investment into drug services .’
A focus on policies to reduce high levels of drinking are even more important in extraordinary times .

Speaking from experience

A NEW ‘ NATIONAL COLLABORATIVE ’ HAS BEEN LAUNCHED by the Scottish Government as part of its attempt to tackle the country ’ s ongoing drugrelated death crisis . The collaborative will ‘ ensure the views of people with lived and living experience are reflected in all aspects of the national mission on drug deaths ’, the government says , and will be chaired by Professor Alan Miller , an expert in human rights law .
Regular forums allowing people with lived experience to make recommendations about improving treatment services will be chaired by Miller , with the rights of people affected by substance use ‘ recognised in all relevant policy and practice in accordance with the new human rights framework for Scotland ’. The country ’ s drug death rate is three times higher than it was a decade ago and remains the worst in Europe by a significant margin . ‘ Successful delivery of the national mission requires a better way of listening to , and acting on , the voices of those with lived and living experience ,’ said drug policy minister Angela Constance .