Press release: The complexities around problem drinking

January 2023 | 8 minutes

The complexities around problem drinking need to be better understood and addressed, as figures show 10% rise in those needing alcohol treatment.

Drinking trends are dynamic and have undergone many changes in recent years. Research shows that, for many people, the coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in their drinking with those already drinking heavily most likely to have been drinking more.i

As a result, far too many lives are being lost due to alcohol with latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that in 2021 there were 9,641 deaths from alcohol-specific causes, the highest number on record.ii And new data from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities showing the number of adults entering treatment in 2021 to 2022 for alcohol problems rose by 10% on the previous year.iii

Speaking ahead of its national conference, Andrew Misell, conference host and Director for Wales at Alcohol Change UK, said:

“Although we’re seeing an increase in people seeking support for alcohol problems, there are many others who are being left behind.

“Far too many lives are tragically cut short each year due to alcohol with latest figures on the number of alcohol-specific deaths at a record high.

“At the moment, 600,000 people in the UK could benefit from alcohol treatment but the vast majority are not receiving it.

“If we are to help more people, we need to recognise that harmful drinking doesn’t only affect individuals but can also play a part in specific group identities and communities and adapt our services accordingly.

“Alcohol harm is complex and can vary by age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, the region in which we live, and many other social factors. Having a better understanding of the complexities and inequalities of alcohol harm, experienced within these different groups and communities, can help us offer better informed support which can significantly improve the outcomes for those who are struggling.

“This is the topic for our upcoming conference in March. It is a space for all those working in the field of alcohol harm to come together to find new ways to reach out to those affected, particularly those in under-served groups and communities, with the aim of reducing health inequalities and improving lives.”

With an impressive line-up of speakers, this one-day online conference will provide an excellent opportunity for anyone working in drug and alcohol treatment, healthcare, housing and homelessness, social care, academia, or the emergency services to come together to hear from people and communities we often fail to connect with, and to learn more about how to bridge the gaps.  

Speakers include:

  • Yaina Samuels from Adferiad on anti-racism and harm reduction
  • Swansea University’s Telling our own stories project team who’ll be sharing Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people’s experiences of alcohol
  • Dr Lucy Allwright from AVA talking about interventions to support women with complex needs
  • Shannon Murray from the University of South Wales on LGBTQ+ experiences of substance use and treatment
  • Dan Carden MP and Melissa Rice in conversation about the roles alcohol has played in their lives and identity.

Tackling the harm caused by alcohol has never been more important. With the most serious alcohol harm being experienced by some of the groups and communities already facing the greatest challenges, it is vital the we act now to address these widening health inequalities to ensure anyone struggling with their drinking is able to access the right type of support that can meet their specific needs without shame or stigma.  

The one-day online conference ‘Opening Doors: ensuring access for all to alcohol support’ takes place on Thursday, 2 March 2023. Book your tickets today!

Book now



i Office for National Statistics (2022). Alcohol-specific deaths in the UK: registered in 2021

ii Office for National Statistics (2022). Alcohol-specific deaths in the UK: registered in 2021

iii Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (2023). Adult substance misuse treatment statistics 2021 to 2022: report

About Alcohol Change UK

Alcohol Change UK works for a world free from alcohol harm. We fund, commission and share research; provide information and advice; work to ensure more and better support and treatment; encourage better policy and regulation; shift drinking cultures through our campaigns; and work to change drinking behaviours. Find out more.