Latest NHS England hospital admissions data sparks concern from Rehabs UK, as admittances relating to drug and alcohol use fall. At the same time, the number of people turning to the private sector rises.
Analysing the newly released figures for the 2022–2023 financial year, Rehabs UK discovered that:
- Alcohol-related admissions dropped by nearly a quarter (24.8%) year-on-year, while drug-related admittances decreased by 17.5%.
- Drug-related admissions for those under 18 spiked, making up one in 10 admittances.
- A disproportionate number of men are being treated, accounting for more than four in five admissions tied to alcohol and three in five involving drugs.
Lester Morse, recovery coach and director of Rehabs UK, explains why these figures are a cause for concern: “I would love to say the drop in hospital admissions has been due to our country finally treating people experiencing addiction with the support they need; however, this, unfortunately, does not appear to be the case.
“While NHS admissions have declined, our addiction treatment advisors are reporting a massive increase in the public turning to the private sector for treatment, with many people stating that they no longer see the NHS as a place you can go to for help with addiction.”
Callers to Rehabs UK’s telephone service report NHS services as having too many barriers, being too slow, and ineffective treatment. The new data supports this, with a 4.6% rise in those waiting for drug-related admissions.
Just last week, Rehabs UK spoke to a family whose son sadly took his own life, exhausted from being unable to access the help he needed. After being refused residential rehab, the cost of private healthcare was inaccessible to the family.
Morse adds: “I want to clarify that people are telling us that the current NHS treatment is minimal, and those dealing with substance abuse are not being treated effectively until it is too late, often waiting years getting worse whilst supposedly receiving help. While cutbacks, industrial action and fall-out from the pandemic have worsened the problem, people with addiction seem to be way down the government’s list of priorities.”
This is not the only concern stemming from these new figures – an alarming trend is the number of children and teenagers admitted for drug-related factors. The data shows that under 18’s account for one in ten drug-related hospital admissions, rising from last year. Recently, Rehabs UK has seen a rise in family members seeking treatment and advice for young people abusing Ketamine.
Morse expresses concern that the normalisation and popularity of vaping among teenagers may be a contributory factor for this increase in substance abuse, “While the idea of a gateway drug is contested, nicotine is known to influence changes in the brain that encourage drug abuse”, says Morse. “It is highly concerning that fun packaging and clever product marketing are convincing young people that vaping is harmless when it could introduce them to a lifelong addiction and substance abuse.”
In addition to young people, we see a disproportionate number of men admitted for drug and alcohol-related reasons, accounting for more than four in five admissions tied to alcohol and three in five involving drugs. Historically, Morse has experienced more men than women in addiction treatment, with more men seemingly abusing substances addictively.
Unfortunately, men have stereotypically been grouped as less vulnerable, which can result in even further limitations in accessing support and treatment; however, this is slowly starting to change in modern society.
Sadly, this data proves that people are losing heart in the NHS and turning to private healthcare to meet their needs.
With such high numbers of young and male admissions, action must be taken to help and support vulnerable members of our society, with private healthcare simply not an option for many.