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IoP report finds low access to specialist alcohol treatment in Scotland

06 August 2009

Professor Colin Drummond from the National Addiction Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), King’s College London, is co-author of a specially commissioned report, which assesses the level of need for specialist alcohol treatment and to chart service capacity in Scotland.  The study was commissioned by the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams (SAADAT) and funded by the Scottish Government.  The IoP team worked in collaboration with Figure 8 Consultancy Services Ltd.

The study found that almost a third of Scottish men and a quarter of women drink at potentially harmful levels but very few are getting help.

Professor Drummond said:  ‘Compared with England, Scotland has a 48 per cent higher level of access to specialist alcohol treatment, however, all but one of the Scottish areas had levels of access below that deemed ‘low’ by American standards (1 in 10).’

The report showed that in 2006/07, approximately 17,000 Scots accessed treatment for alcohol problems but, according to the research, this represents only 8.2 per cent of people who could benefit from specialist help.

Professor Drummond added: ‘Our figures are probably an underestimate because the surveys we used wouldn’t have been filled out by people in prison or the pub.’

He continues ‘We recommend that commissioners consider increasing access to treatment for those with alcohol dependence in all parts of Scotland, with an initial target of achieving a ‘medium’ level of access of 15 per cent. Priority should be given to those areas with the lowest access.’

Dr Michael Farrell, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Addictions Faculty said ‘Alcohol misuse has been a neglected issue throughout the United Kingdom for many years. Since the 1970s there have been rising rates of alcohol related harm, but little investment in services. Over the past 2 years, however, Scotland has shown the way within the United Kingdom and in Europe with innovative, evidence-based approaches to prevention and treatment.’

SAADAT hopes that the findings from this report inform the development of services provided for people with alcohol problems and will enable them to continue to work to reduce the harms associated with alcohol use.

The authors of Scottish Alcohol Needs Assessment are:  Drummond, C., Deluca, P., Oyefeso, A., Rome, A., Scrafton, S., Rice, P. (2009).  The report is published by Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London: London  ISBN 978-0-9563298-0-6.

See the Report:



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