Only a quarter of the alcoholics in South Tyneside attending treatment to stop drinking

New figures show number of alcoholics seeking support treatment. Picture by PA Wire/PA Images
New figures show number of alcoholics seeking support treatment. Picture by PA Wire/PA Images

Only one quarter of the people with alcohol dependency in South Tyneside are attending some treatment programme to stop drinking.

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.

The latest figures from Public Health England show that 23% of alcohol-dependent residents in the council area went for any therapy in 2016-17 – one of the highest rates in England.

This proportion was better two years earlier when 24% received psychological treatment.

Public Health England estimates that South Tyneside had 1,960 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.”

“In other cases, budget cuts led to the closure of treatment programmes in small suburbs or towns, so patients have to move somewhere else, making the accessibility more challenging.”

Among those who attended therapy in South Tyneside, 36.7% 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 South Tyneside was below the average for England, where 38.7% of the patients quit drinking thanks to the therapy.

Top of the ranking was Slough, where 71% of the patients did not have any relapse. Milton Keynes was at the bottom, with a rate of success of just 17%.

Kelly Feehan, services director at CABA, a charity devoted to promoting public well-being, said: “One of the major issues is the stigma around asking for help, because they not only have to admit they have a problem, but also that they can’t cope with it.”

“Alcoholism affects people both physically and mentally, and whilst many are familiar with the physical side effects that the condition can present, the mental impact can often go under the radar.”