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Doctors fail a nation of binge-drinkers.

A quarter of people in England and almost 40 per cent of men have alcohol problems but doctors are failing to identify the vast majority of cases, according to a Government study.

And when sufferers do seek help they are faced with a postcode lottery and a national level of treatment for alcohol dependency that falls far short of internationally regarded acceptable levels.

The Department of Health report found 26 per cent of adults aged 16 to 64 were drinking more than the Government's recommended limits. Some 38 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women were consuming more than the safe levels of 21 units a week or eight a day for men, and 14 units a week or six a day for women. About 3.6 per cent, or 1.1 million, of adults in England suffered from alcohol dependence.

But GPs were only identifying one in 67 of men with harmful or hazardous drinking habits and one in 82 women.

When it came to alcohol dependency they were spotting one in 28 male cases and one in 20 female cases.

The report, which analysed Office for National Statistics figures from 2000, and a 2002 General Household Survey for its conclusions on the number of people with drink problems, also found that 21 per cent of men and nine per cent of women indulged in binge drinking.

'Hazardous drinking' covers those who drink more than the Government's recommendations but have not yet been harmed, 'harmful drinking' covers those who have suffered.

and are consuming around 50 units a week for men and 35 units for women.

The next level after that is alcohol dependence, where men may drink above 15 units a day and women above ten.

Just one in 18 people per year across the country suffering from alcohol dependency get treatment, according to the new figures from 2004 in the Alcohol Needs Assessment Research Project.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 2, 2005
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