The latest figures reveal that nearly 300,000 adults made contact with drug and alcohol services between April 2021 and March 2022, just after the major Covid restrictions eased, a figure that rose from 275,896 the previous year.
Analysis of the figures by drug and alcohol experts UKAT shows that of those in treatment, nearly a third (29%) were in treatment for alcohol addiction. During the pandemic, 76,740 adults sought help for alcohol addiction, which has risen by a staggering 10% to 84,697.
The divide between the number of men vs women seeking help for alcohol problems is the smallest out of all substance groups, with men making up 58% and women 42%, compared to 72% of men in treatment for opiates and 28% of women.
Worryingly, 9% of those in treatment for alcohol problems alone were aged under 30.
The connection between alcohol misuse and mental health is also highlighted in the report. It shows that of those who started treatment in 2021 to 2022, over two-thirds of people said they also had a mental health need. Proportionally, 70% of those seeking treatment and having a mental health need were receiving help for alcohol alone.
Since the pandemic, Brits are also seemingly struggling to get to grips with powder cocaine. Today’s report shows that people starting treatment in 2021 to 2022 with powder cocaine problems increased by 11% from 19,209 to 21,298, almost reaching the peak in 2019 of 21,396.
Nuno Albuquerque, head of treatment for the drug and alcohol addiction treatment providers UKAT, comments: “Today’s report shows that for some, a way of coping with the global pandemic was to lean into drugs–in particular cocaine and alcohol. At the time, users may have believed that drugs and alcohol were helping them to get through their difficulties, but over time, dependency and addiction have developed, and now they need help.”
“Our concern is that most community drug and alcohol treatment services closed or reduced their service offering during the pandemic. Naturally, it’s taking a while for them to get back to pre-pandemic service delivery levels. This means that there will be thousands more people out there waiting for help for their drug and alcohol problems, and being in active addiction is not something that improves with time.”
Today’s report highlights that drug and alcohol misuse are significant causes of premature death in England. The number of deaths from drug misuse registered in 2021 was 2,846, the highest since records began. Alcohol-specific deaths reached 9,641, a staggering 27.4% rise since 2019, before the Covid pandemic.