Skip Navigation
Search site

This is our old website. Most information can now be found on our new NHS Digital website. Let us know what you think.

Cost of drugs for treating alcohol dependence tops £3 million for the first time

The cost to the NHS of drugs dispensed to treat alcohol dependence topped £3 million in 2013, new figures show.2

Today's report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows the Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) cost of alcohol dependence drugs in England increased by almost £200,000 to £3.13 million in 2013, a rise of 6.7 per cent on 2012 (£2.93 million).3

In total almost 184,000 prescription items were dispensed in primary care and NHS hospitals in 2013. This is a rise of 3.1 per cent (178,000) on the previous year and a 78.9 per cent rise on ten years ago (103,000).

Statistics on Alcohol - England, 2014 uses a number of data sources, some previously published, to provide a detailed insight into patterns of use, behaviours and attitudes towards drinking alcohol among adults and children. New analyses of prescribing data and limited new analyses of alcohol-related hospital admissions are published today. Further hospital admission analysis will be published in June.5

Today's report shows:

  • In 2012-13 there were over one million alcohol-related hospital admissions based on primary and secondary diagnoses and almost two in three of these were male (65 per cent).5
  • North East Region recorded the highest rate of alcohol-related admissions (2,500 per 100,000 population) and the South East Region recorded the lowest (1,500 admissions per 100,000 population).4
  • In 2012 there were 6,490 alcohol-related deaths, a fall of 4.2 per cent on 2011 (6,770) and of these almost two thirds were caused by alcoholic liver disease (4,080)

Information from the HSCIC's Health Survey for England (HSE) suggests that the percentage of people in Great Britain who regularly drink is falling. Between 2005 and 2012 the percentage of men who drank alcohol in the week before being interviewed fell from 72 to 64, and from 57 to 52 in women .

HSE data also shows:

  • Between 2005 and 2012 there was a fall from 22 per cent to 14 in the percentage of men who were frequent drinkers (those who drank alcohol on at least five days in the week before being interviewed), and from 13 per cent to nine per cent in women.

HSCIC Chair Kingsley Manning said: "Today's report highlights one of the areas of impact that alcohol dependence has on our NHS. The fact there has been a rise of nearly 70 per cent in the prescribing of alcohol dependence drugs over the last decade is striking.

"These data provide an insight into the effect of alcohol on services, and will offer a better understanding to the public, health professionals and policy makers into this on-going public health issue."

You can read the full report at

Notes to editors

1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 220 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. Prescribing data included in today's report was obtained from the Prescribing Analysis and Cost Tool (PACT) system, which covers prescriptions prescribed in primary care, hospitals and clinics and dispensed in the community. Prescriptions dispensed in hospitals and private prescriptions are not included in PACT data. Prescribing definitions are as follows:

Prescription Item: Prescribers write prescriptions on a prescription form. Each single item written on the form is counted as a prescription item.

Net Ingredient Cost (NIC): is the basic cost of a drug as listed in the Drug Tariff or price lists; it does not include discounts, dispensing costs, prescription charges or fees.

3. Figures over 1 million have been rounded to the nearest 10,000 and those over 100,000 have been rounded to the nearest 1,000. Figures under 100,000 have been rounded to the nearest 10.

4. Admissions per 100,000 of the population are age and gender standardised.

5. Alcohol-related admissions are calculated using Alcohol-Attributable Fractions (AAFs), based on a methodology developed by the North West Public Health Observatory (now part of Public Health England). This methodology takes information from patients' characteristics and diagnoses from Hospital Episode Statistics, together with estimates for the proportion of cases of a particular disease of injury that are caused by alcohol consumption. The methodology for calculating alcohol-related admissions to hospital has been revised following a public consultation ( In addition to the alcohol related conditions and risk ratios being updated (using latest consumption estimates) the measure previously based on primary diagnoses only has been revised to now also include mentions of alcohol-related external causes in secondary diagnosis fields. The figures presented for 2012/13 are not comparable with earlier years' figures previously published. The time series data will be revised following the new methodology. The revised series is expected to be published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre at the end of June 2014.

6. For media enquiries please contact or 0300 303 3888.

Close iCM Form