Emergency Info

Guidelines on when to call the Emergency Services 999 for unwell recreational drug users

Call 999 if ANY one of the following is present:

Unconsciousness – if the patient does not respond to vocal commands, requires painful stimulus (e.g. pressure across the fingernails) to respond or does not respond at all.

Significant agitation (e.g. pacing around the room) or aggression not settling within 15 minutes.

Seizures (e.g. a convulsion similar to an epileptic fit)

Breathing difficulties such as fast breathing rate which does not settle within 15 minutes.

Heart rate over 140 beats per minute not settling within 5 minutes.

Temperature over 38.5 not settling after about 5 minutes of rest, or if very flushed and feels very hot if no thermometer is available.

Blood pressure – Systolic (“upper pressure”) over 180mmHg, or Diastolic (“lower pressure”) over 110mmHg on two repeated blood pressure measurements.

Other concerns – if there are any other concerns (e.g. severe headache, chest pain).


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Alcohol Trends 2020

Earlier this month (4 February 2020), the Office for National Statistics published its invaluable annual collection of data relating to all things Alcohol in England for 2019.

This Safer Nightlife update simply highlights some of the key findings and trends.

Alcohol consumption


The proportion of men and women usually drinking over 14 units in a week varied across age groups and was most common among men and women aged 55 to 64 (38% and 19% respectively). Proportions drinking at these levels then declined among both sexes from the age of 65. Across all age groups, men were more likely than women to drink at increasing and higher risk levels.

The proportions of men and women who had not drunk alcohol varied across regions. Among both men and women, the highest proportions of non-drinkers were in London (28%) and the lowest proportions in the East of England (9%).


It seems that the recent trend for many young people to be less interested in alcohol may be bottoming out. Between 2003 and 2014 there was a decline in the proportion of pupils who had ever had an alcoholic drink. In 2018, 44% (confidence interval 41-46%) of pupils said they had ever had an alcoholic drink, the same as in 2016. As always, the prevalence rate increases with age with 14% of 11-year-olds saying that they have had an alcoholic drink at least once with the equivalent figure for 15-year-olds being 70%.

Schoolchildren who drink consumed an average (mean) of 10.3 units that week. 21% of pupils who drank in the last week were estimated to have drunk more than 15 units. Again, younger pupils who drank in the last week were more likely to have drunk fewer units than older pupils.

The Smoking, Drinking and Drug use among Young People in England survey, from which this information comes, also asked respondents about being drunk in the last four week period. 9% of children said they been drunk in the last month, including 6% of pupils who had been drunk once or twice and 2% who said they had been drunk more often.

There is also helpful information on where young people who drink usually buy their alcohol. 24% of current drinkers said they usually bought alcohol from friends or relatives, the most common source. 19% said they usually bought alcohol from any retailer or licenced premises, though this was higher for older pupils; 26% of 15 year olds, compared to 12% of 11 to 13 year olds (see the graphic below). 61% of current drinkers said they never buy alcohol, the proportion being higher for younger pupils; 76% of 11 to 13 year olds  (not shown on graphic).

where young people buy alcohol

Alcohol-related hospital admissions

Two measures for alcohol-related hospital admissions are used:

  • Narrow measure – where the main reason for admission to hospital was attributable to alcohol.
  • Broad measure – where the primary reason for hospital admission or a secondary diagnosis was linked to alcohol.

The narrow measure estimates the number of hospital admissions which are primarily due to alcohol consumption and provides the best indication of trends in alcohol-related hospital admissions. The broad measure gives an indication of the full impact of alcohol on hospital admissions and the burden placed on the NHS.

In 2018/19 there were 358 thousand estimated admissions where the main reason for admission to hospital was attributable to alcohol (narrow measure). This is 6% higher than 2017/18 and 19% higher than 2008/09.

There were almost 1.3 million estimated admissions where the primary reason for hospital admission or a secondary diagnosis was linked to alcohol, which is 8% higher than 2017/18 (broad measure). Changes over a longer time period will partly reflect improvements in recording of secondary diagnoses. This represents 7.4% of all hospital admissions.

In England in 2018, there were 5,698 alcohol-specific deaths which  is 2% lower than 2017 and an increase of 7% on 2008. Just over twice as many men as women died from alcohol-specific causes.

alcohol key facts 2020

Alcohol treatment

In 2018/19, 76 thousand were treated for problematic drinking alone which was similar to the previous year ; 29,000 were treated for non-opiate and alcohol problems.

Expenditure on  alcohol

UK household expenditure on alcohol has almost doubled to £20.0 billion in 2018, from £10.4 billion in 1987.

However, alcohol expenditure as a proportion of total household expenditure has fallen to 1.5% over the same period, from 3.4% in 1987.

Average weekly household expenditure on alcohol was £8.70 in 2017/18.​ People in the 65-74 age group spent the most, with an average of £10.60 a week. ​



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