Most alcoholics not seeking help to stop drinking, charity warns

Most alcoholics arent getting help
Most alcoholics arent getting help

Only a quarter of Wigan people with a diagnosed drink problem are attending treatment programmes to stop or curb boozing.

Mental health and alcohol charities have called on the Government to increase funding for these services and make the process to apply for support easier.

Latest figures from Public Health England show that 26 per cent of alcohol-dependent residents in the borough went for any therapy in 2016-17. This proportion was even poorer two years earlier when 22 per cent received psychological treatment.

Public Health England estimates that Wigan had 4,484 people suffering from alcoholism based on a national survey of 7,500 adults across England.

The survey revealed that nationally, men were more likely than women to drink at hazardous levels.

Men and women claiming benefits were more likely to be harmful or mildly dependent drinkers than those who were not.

Julie Breslin, the alcohol specialist for the mental health charity Addaction, put this low proportion of drinkers receiving assistance down to public budget cuts, among other factors.

She said: “Cuts in local authority funding, up to half in some cases, means services are expected to see more people with fewer resources.

“Dependent alcohol use will often present with other complex issues including socio-economic problems, cognitive impairment, depression and health issues. It’s crucial that service design makes sure treatment is as accessible and flexible as possible.”

James Nicholls, director of research and policy development at Alcohol Research UK, added: “In some local authorities, cuts in alcohol services have been enormous.

“In some cases, this means there are not alcohol specialists, and alcohol and drug dependents are mixed in therapies. That is not a welcoming environment for them.”

Among those who attended therapy in Wigan, 42.5 per cent completed the treatment successfully, according to the latest figures, from 2016.

Patients are considered successful if they do not need further medical support for six months after completing the therapy.

The rate of recovery in Wigan was above the average for England, where 38.7 per cent of the patients quit drinking thanks to the therapy. Top of the ranking was Slough, where 71 per cent of the patients did not have any relapse. Milton Keynes was at the bottom, with a rate of success of just 17 per cent.