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Alcohol use overview

AlcoholIf you are worried about your, or someone else’s use of alcohol, help is at hand. Drug and alcohol advice details the advice, help and support available.

Alcohol use can cause serious physical and psychological harm to the individual as well as friends, families and communities of those affected. In Southampton, it is estimated that 5,355 people have a dependency on alcohol and may potentially need specialist treatment.

Alcohol use is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health, and disability among 15 to 49-year-olds in the UK and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages. Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 medical conditions, including:

  • mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers
  • high blood pressure
  • cirrhosis of the liver
  • depression

Please be aware that the webpage has been updated with the most recent figures, however this will not be reflected on the alcohol dashboard due to a delay in the most recent mid-year population estimate. Once the data has been released the dashboard will be updated.

More information can be found is the alcohol dashboard below and in the resources section.

Alcohol dashboard
Visualisation

Alcohol Use

It is thought that in Southampton, 41,807 individuals (20.6% of people over 18) drink over 14 units of alcohol a week (a level considered as high risk), lower but statistically similar to the England average (22.8%). It is estimated that 2.7% of adults locally are dependent drinkers, nearly double the England rate of 1.4%.

Much of the night-time economy is surrounding the consumption of alcohol and yet in Southampton 14.9% of the adult population are thought to abstain from alcohol. Conversely, there is a similar proportion (14.5% of adults) who reported to have binge-drunk on their heaviest day (drinking more than 6 units by women or 8 units by men).

Profiles for England show men are more likely to drink alcohol at increasing or higher risk levels (with those aged 40 to 64 years being heaviest drinking age group amongst both men and women). Also those in the most deprived areas had the highest proportion of non-drinkers at 28.9%. Alcohol consumption at an increased or higher risk level is more prevalent in more deprived areas. The average weekly expenditure on alcohol in 2017/18 was £8.70.

In the 2021 Smoking, drinking and drug use among Young People in England (SDD) survey of secondary school pupils (aged 11 to 15 year olds) across England, 13% of 11 year olds had consumed alcohol and this had increased to five times higher, 65% by the age of 15. The survey asked about the previous 4 weeks and 17% of 15 year olds had drank alcohol (but not been drunk) and 21% had been drunk.

The most common way of obtaining alcohol was from a parent or guardian (75% of those who had obtained alcohol in the last 4 weeks). 50% of pupils had taken it from home and 19% had stolen it from home. The consumption of alcohol amongst children as well as adults increased with family affluence. The proportion of children who drank alcohol in the last week increased with the number of drinkers that they live with.

More information can be found is the alcohol dashboard below and in the resources section.

Alcohol dashboard
Visualisation

Alcohol hospital admissions

Alcohol-related hospital admissions can be used as a measure to indicate the burden of excessive alcohol consumption on the health of a population. Three hospital admissions measures can be used: alcohol-specific, alcohol-related (narrow) and alcohol-related (broad):

  • Alcohol-specific hospital admissions are where the primary or any of the secondary diagnoses are wholly attributable to alcohol
  • Alcohol-related admissions are those which can partly be attributed to alcohol
    • The broad definition encompasses admissions where the primary or secondary diagnoses is an alcohol-related condition
    • The narrow definition only includes admissions where the primary diagnosis is alcohol-related

The broad measure can be more sensitive to changes in coding practices over time, the narrow definition can understate the role of alcohol in the admission. More information can be found in the OHID - Local Alcohol Profiles for England.

Southampton is shown to have a higher rate of alcohol-specific and alcohol-related (broad) hospital admissions than England. Alcohol affects many illnesses and treatments. University Hospital of Southampton asks all Southampton inpatients about alcohol so they can provide the right care. This is good practice which is not common in other hospitals yet. It means our numbers are higher because UHS is thorough in identifying and recording alcohol use. In other areas of the country, alcohol is likely to contribute to as many hospital admissions, but may be less likely to be consistently identified and/or recorded so their reported numbers are lower.

Men are twice as likely as women in Southampton to be admitted to hospital for alcohol-specific health issues, increasing to 3 times more likely for broadly categorised alcohol-related issues.

Despite increasing alcohol-specific hospital admissions across all ages, when looking specifically at those aged under 18, Southampton admissions have fallen over the last 10 years, reducing the rate from 102.5 to 61.7 admissions per 100,000 people aged under 18, in 2018/19 to 2020/21. This remains statistically worse than the England average of 29.3 per 100,000 people.

In England, alcohol related hospital admissions increase with age, peaking at 40 to 64 years for narrow admissions. In Southampton under the age of forty, the gap between male and female hospital admissions for alcohol-related conditions (narrow) is similar, 273.2 (males) vs 223.0 (females) in 2021/22. This difference increases with age, men aged 65+ are just under 3 times more likely than their female counterparts to be admitted to hospital for alcohol-related conditions (narrow).

Of the six indicators: cardiovascular disease, liver disease, unintentional injuries, intentional self-poisoning, mental and behaviour disorders (narrow and broad), Southampton performs significantly worse than England and the South East region in all of them, with the exception of unintentional injuries which is lower but statistically similar rate. Notably, in 2021/22, Southampton had just over 5 times higher rate of admission episodes for mental and behaviour disorders related to alcohol (broad) than the England average and over double that of Liverpool, the second highest comparator. For men alone, this was at a rate of 3,210 admissions per 100,000 people falling to 1,097 for women. It is thought that this indicator would see a greater impact because of the changes in methods to code admissions.

More information can be found is the alcohol dashboard below and in the resources section.

Alcohol dashboard
Visualisation

Mortality and years of life lost

Over the last five years alcohol attributed mortality rates and alcohol related mortality rates have been steadily increasing in Southampton and currently stand at 17.3 alcohol-specific deaths per 100,000 people (2017-2019) and 48.2 per 100,000 persons, alcohol-related deaths (2021). Alcohol-related mortality is 3 times higher for males than females with 73.9 deaths per 100,000 compared to 24.9 deaths per 100,000 respectively in 2021.

In England, 78% of alcohol-specific deaths were of people aged 40 to 69, with the number of deaths increasing with age, peaking at those aged 50 to 59, before decreasing at older ages. The main cause (80%) of alcoholic-specific deaths was alcoholic liver disease. The proportion of alcohol-specific deaths were also shown to increase with deprivation. More information can be found on the ONS Alcohol-specific deaths in the UK and NHS England.

In Southampton, in 2020, the number of potential years of life lost to alcohol for women stands at 579.2 years per 100,000 females. This is less than half of that estimated for men at 1,325.0 per 100,000 for males. This is similar to national patterns with 499.6 and 1,116.0 respectively.

More information can be found is the alcohol dashboard below and in the resources section.

Alcohol dashboard
Visualisation

Care, treatment and policy

For those who wish to seek specialist alcohol treatment, a three week or less waiting time is achieved for 98.8% of people (2020/21), an increase from 81.6% in 2014/15, and higher than the England average of 98.0% (2020/21). Despite this, it is thought that 91.0% of adults who are dependent on alcohol are not in contact with alcohol treatment services. In 2020/21, 1.3 people per 1,000 adults in Southampton are in treatment at a specialist alcohol services, below the national average of 1.7. Almost half the number in 2013/14 (2.5 per 1,000 persons) and 2.2 per 1,000 nationally. In Southampton, 31.6% of people aged 18+ that left 'structured alcohol treatment and did not seek more treatment for 6 months', compared with 35.3% across England.

In England, those seeking treatment are more likely to be aged 45 to 49 years old however heavy drinkers (drinking more than 14 units per week) are more likely to be aged being between the ages of 55 to 64 years. The top three referral methods for treatment are: self-referral (64%), health and social care (21%) and the criminal justice system (6%). Similar to other drug users accessing treatment, deaths during treatment have risen from 1% to 1.4%. More information on adult substance use disorder is available from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID).

More information can be found is the alcohol dashboard below and in the resources section.

Alcohol dashboard
Visualisation

Alcohol related crime

Bar chart showing all alcohol affected crime by Southampton wardThe consumption of alcohol can be related to criminal activity because of its effects on the body. It can reduce self-control, which leads to an increased likelihood that individuals under the influence of alcohol may engage in anti-social or criminal behaviour.

It is estimated that alcohol is associated with one million crimes in the UK each year (Institute for Alcohol Studies). There were 3,105 alcohol affected crimes in Southampton in 2022/23, which is an 18.7% increase compared to the pre-pandemic baseline (2019/20). The majority (70.7%) of alcohol affected crimes in Southampton over the last year were violent crimes. Alcohol affected crime is strongly linked to the night-time economy (NTE). Bargate or Bevois wards saw 40.4% of Southampton's alcohol affected crimes, which is where large portions of the night-time economy in Southampton are located. Peak times for alcohol affected crime are late on weekends, which is when engagement with the NTE is highest. For more information on crime in Southampton, see the Safe City Strategic Assessment page.

Resources

Alcohol dashboard

This dashboard shows key alcohol related data for Southampton, England and other comparator cities. Data in this dashboard has been compiled from a range of publicly available sources including the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID).

Alcohol dashboard
Visualisation

Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Strategy (TAD) dashboard

Dashboard and strategy for measuring how Southampton City Council will reduce harm to people who use tobacco, alcohol and drugs, as well as harm to people around them and Southampton as a whole.

Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Dashboard (TAD)
Visualisation

Drugs dashboard

This dashboard shows key drug related data for Southampton, England and other comparator cities. Data in this dashboard has been compiled from a range of publicly available sources including the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID).

Drugs dashboard
Visualisation

Community safety dashboard

Dashboard combining a variety of community safety and crime related data to provide intelligence on community safety in Southampton from publicly available data sources.

Community safety dashboard
Visualisation

Using a telephone line to deliver Extended Brief Interventions to support people with alcohol use disorders

The Alcohol Telephone Line provides a short-term, open-access confidential service for people who are worried about their drinking. This provides an Extended Brief Intervention for people who need more support than that offered by universal services, such as GP practices, but who do not need the multiple therapies or pharmacotherapy for alcohol dependency, known nationally as Structured Treatment. The specialist Substance Use Disorder Service runs a separate, free telephone line. It can be accessed directly, without a referral. The poster available below presents the results of the service between October 2020 and December 2022. SCC Public Health Poster - Using a telephone line to deliver Extended Brief Interventions to support people with alcohol use disorders

Using a telephone line to deliver Extended Brief Interventions to support people with alcohol use disorders
Visualisation

Data sources

Other useful alcohol related websites

OHID Fingertips – Local Alcohol Profiles for England (LAPE)
Website
OHID - Adult substance misuse treatment statistics (2021 to 2022)
Website
ONS - Alcohol-specific deaths in the UK
Dataset
NHS England - Statistics on alcohol (2021)
Website
NHS England - Statistics on alcohol (2020)
Website
Institute of Alcohol Studies – Alcohol Knowledge Centre
Website

Drug and alcohol advice

If you are worried about your, or someone else’s use of drugs, help is at hand. Please follow this link for details of the advice, help and support available.

Drug and alcohol advice
Website

Last updated: 03 October 2023