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Investment in addiction treatment needed more than ever in spite of COVID-19

Posted by Alex Molyneux
on 13 May 2020


We want to shine a light on the need for continued investment in drug and alcohol addiction treatment and prevention.

With the financial difficulties created by COVID-19 public services budgets will be under even more pressure than before, but drug and alcohol treatment cannot fall down the priority list.

The job insecurity, stress and anxiety of lockdown, may well have intensified drug and alcohol issues for many people and help is needed now more than ever.

Due to it being one of the closest cities to Delamere, an area of acute addiction issues, as well as being home to our founder Martin Preston, we have carried out some specific research into the current drug and alcohol issues facing Manchester.

Martin said: “It’s easy for addiction treatment investment to be quietly cut because compassion for those addicted to drink and drugs remains low. 

“It’s still a prevalent belief in society that people facing addiction issues are responsible for their own downfall and not as deserving of help as people facing other health issues. 

“Many people also see addiction as something that only affects ‘other’ people. In reality, addiction affects everyone.”

Alcohol is recognised as the fifth biggest risk factor for death, ill health and disability in the UK, by Public Health England. For 15-49 year olds, it is the biggest risk factor.

The rate of alcohol related deaths in Manchester is 57.8 alcohol per 100,000 population, according to Public Health England. The national average rate is 46.5.

Between March 1 and April 17 2020 there were 36.2 deaths involving COVID-19 per 100,000 population in England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics.

All of Greater Manchester’s regions face their own drug and alcohol challenges. Our review of Public Health England and NHS Digital figures shows the big issues facing each region.

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Manchester has the highest rated of alcohol related cancer in the country


Manchester has:

In Manchester, 799 years of life per 100,000 population due to alcohol related conditions in 2018 (the most recent annual count).


Bolton has the country’s second worst rates of successful drug treatment completion 


Bolton is:

  • rated to have the fifth worst alcohol death rate of all 23 areas in the North West, with 17.4 deaths per 100,000.

In Bolton, 863 years of life were lost per 100,000 population due to alcohol related conditions in 2018.


High drug and alcohol death rates in Bury


Bury is:

  • dealing with the 14th highest rate of deaths from drug misuse in the country, at 8.7 per 100,000 population, which is almost double that of the national average rate of 4.5. It’s the fourth worst figure in the North West region, topped only by Blackpool, Liverpool and Blackburn with Darwen.
  • ranked as being among the worst in the country for alcohol specific deaths (falling below the 25th percentile line), with 14.5 deaths per 100,000 population compared to a national average of 10.8.
  • dealing with more hospital admissions for alcohol related conditions than the national average, with 2,527 per 100,000 population compared to a national average of 2,367.

In Bury, 655 years of life were lost per 100,000 population due to alcohol related conditions in 2018.


Oldham has higher than average rates of hospital admissions for alcohol related illness


Oldham has:

In Oldham, 900 years of life were lost to alcohol related conditions in 2018. That’s the 15th highest level in the country and fifth highest in the North West.


Rochdale’s low rates of successful completion of alcohol and drug treatment


Rochdale has:

  • the second worst rate of successful completion of drug treatment for opiate users in the North West, at 3.4%. Again Bolton was worse. Rochdale is 9th worst in England on this measure.

A total of 890 years of life were lost in Rochdale to alcohol related conditions in 2018.


Salford has the country’s third highest rate of alcohol related hospital admissions


Salford has:

In Salford, 739 years of life were lost to alcohol related conditions in 2018.


Stockport suffers higher than average alcohol-related hospital admissions 


In Stockport there were:

In Stockport, a total of 675 years of life were lost in Stockport to alcohol related conditions.


Tameside among ten places in country that you’re most likely to die from an alcohol related cause


Tameside has:

A total of 875 years of life were lost in Tameside to alcohol related conditions in 2018.


Under 18s in Trafford are more likely to be admitted to hospital due to drinking than in many parts of the North West 


Trafford has:

In Trafford, 584 years of life were lost to alcohol related conditions in 2018.


1,109 years of life lost to alcohol related conditions in Wigan 


Wigan has:

  • a rate of drugs deaths almost 50% higher than the national average, at 6.7 per 100,000 population. In England it is 4.5.
  • ranked as having below average performance across many key Public Health England indicators for alcohol harm and alcohol related deaths (appearing below the 50th percentile line in all cases and the below the 25th percentile line in many). 
  • been rated 6th worst in the country for the number of men who are admitted to hospital for intentional self poisoning with alcohol. There were the equivalent of 104 admissions in Wigan compared to a national average of 41.8.

In Wigan, 1,109 years of life were lost per 100,000 population due to alcohol related conditions in 2018. That’s the highest number of the entire North West barring Blackpool. And the fifth highest in all of the country.


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Efforts to improve the drug and alcohol issues of Manchester must go on

Martin said: “With The Greater Manchester Drug and Alcohol Strategy there have been big pushes to improve things and that must continue, even now there is bigger pressure on budgets than ever. The long term costs of not providing the right support are far greater than the price of early and appropriately intensive help and intervention.”

Delamere’s report states that Manchester was also recently identified as one of major hubs for county lines drugs gangs, in a national study by Professor Dame Carol Black.

The same study, published in February just before the national COVID-19 lockdown began,  concluded that the entire country is already suffering under-investment in addiction treatment services.

Dame Carol Black said: “The total cost to society of illegal drugs is around £20 billion per year, but only £600 million is spent on treatment and prevention. So the amount of unmet need is growing, some treatment services are disappearing, and the treatment workforce is declining in number and quality.”

She said more funding for treatment services was vital. 

Publicly funded residential rehab is in particularly short supply with priority generally given to those people with heroin and opiate issues.

* This blog post is based on the most up-to-date published figures as at May 2020.

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About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is the Admissions Manager at Delamere. Alex has organised more admissions into treatment than most. Find out more about Alex on our team page.



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