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In this section of these resources, we outline a number of facts relating to alcohol use disorder and alcoholism. We’ve chosen the below facts to highlight a number of diverse issues arising from alcohol abuse and alcoholism. By the time you’ve completed this section, you will better understand alcohol abuse and alcoholism from a logical standpoint.

Fact #1: Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are recognised disorders

Both alcoholism and alcohol abuse are recognised illnesses under the category of ‘alcohol use disorder’ in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This disorder causes the sufferer to drink excessive amounts of alcohol despite a number of negative consequences for doing so. For instance, alcohol abuse and alcoholism inflict negative consequences on the user’s health, career, relationships and social life.

Fact #2: Tolerance

One key symptom of alcohol use disorder is tolerance. This means more and more alcohol must be consumed in order to experience the desired effects of feeling drunk.

Fact #3: Alcohol abuse affects millions of people

In England alone, around nine million people are thought to drink more than the recommended daily limit. There are around 9,000 deaths in the UK each year linked to alcohol. Around 9% of men and 4% of women in the UK show signs of being alcohol dependent. This is according to official figures published by the NHS.

Fact #4: Alcoholism treatment costs the taxpayer billions of pounds

It’s thought that alcohol-related illnesses contribute to around 10% of all UK diseases and deaths. This costs the UK taxpayer around £21 billion each year. £3.5 billion is spent on NHS costs. £7.3 billion is spent on lost productivity and sick days, and £11 billion is spent on tackling alcohol-related crime.

Fact #5: Alcohol abuse is the third biggest lifestyle risk

Alcohol abuse is the third biggest lifestyle risk after obesity and smoking.

Fact #6: Minimum unit pricing

By far the most effective way of tackling alcohol abuse would be to enforce minimum unit pricing. This would force up the price of drinks containing lots of alcohol. This would also reverse the decades-old trend where alcohol continues to be more and more affordable. For instance, alcohol is 61% more affordable than it was back in 1980.

Fact #7: It’s rare to seek out help for alcohol dependency

It’s estimated that a mere 1% of people seek out help for alcohol dependency. This means most people with the disease continue to inflict untold amounts of damage on their health, relationships, and career.

Fact #8: The NHS spends billions on medications to help treat alcoholism

In 2012, a massive 178,247 prescriptions were written out to treat alcoholism. Many of these medications were antidepressants.

Fact #9: Alcoholism treatment profits society

It’s estimated that £1 invested in alcoholism treatment, £5 is saved on crime, health or welfare costs.

Fact #10: Alcoholism treatment is fairly successful

The NHS says 59% of people seeking alcohol treatment in 2012-13 were now in recovery.

Fact #11: Alcohol causes crime

A huge 30% of violent crimes in 2013-14 were committed in or around a public house. This is even higher for stranger violence (42%). 68% of these crimes occurred at night or in the evening.

Fact #12: Drink driving costs lives and injures many others

In 2013-14, 240 people lost their lives due to drink driving. 8,270 people were injured due to drink driving. 1,100 people suffered a serious injury during this period.