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15 September 2020

We Are With You responds to major new RCP report on addiction services

A new report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists argues that addiction services in England are not equipped to treat the soaring numbers of people drinking at high risk during the pandemic and must receive a multi-million-pound funding boost in the upcoming spending review.

Laura Bunt, Deputy CEO at drug, alcohol and mental health charity We Are With You said:

“Social isolation and a lack of a human connection is a big factor behind why some people turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism, so clearly the pandemic continues to be really tough for many people. When you consider that the UK had some of the highest levels of alcohol related harms in Europe even before the lockdown in March, the need for government action now is clear.

“This new analysis from the Royal College of Psychiatrists confirms our fears that the enforced isolation of lockdown is leading to an increase in harmful drinking. Worriningly, we saw a 72% fall in referrals into alcohol treatment in April compared to January of this year, with people worried about placing extra strain on the NHS. But, by June alcohol referrals had risen to their highest point this year, with these expected to rise further over the coming months.

“Alcohol is around 60% more affordable in real terms today than it was in 1980. Yet in March the government scrapped a planned increase in duty on beer and spirits, while tax on all other kinds of alcoholic drinks were also frozen. These extra funds could have gone towards treatment services which in recent years have seen budget cuts of up to 40% in some areas, helping them deal with increased demand in the coming months.”