Tuesday 27 May 2008

"Cocaine victim numbers surge"

Shock! Horror!

The number of cocaine users admitted to hospital has more than quadrupled in eight years, it was revealed yesterday ... gasps The Sun breathlessly, ... The worrying statistics point to a dramatic rise in the drug’s popularity over the last decade..

It then continues with some hard facts ...
Cannabis poisonings nearly halved during the same period. Good stuff. Why is that not worthy of a headline?

The Government figures reveal 740 people needed emergency treatment after bingeing on cocaine during 2006/07, compared with 161 in 1998/99. Wot? Out of maybe half a million users, 740 overdoses? I'd guess that the bulk of these relate to crack-cocaine anyway, which is a truly vile drug, not the good old Bolivian marching powder that merely turns you into an arrogant arsehole and makes your nose bleed. Even if this guess is wrong, it's not much of a message is it "Kids! Don't do cocaine! There's a one-in-a-thousand chance you'll overdose if you take it regularly for a year! And going by these stat's, zero chance that you'll die!"

The majority – 629 – were men and their average age was 29. Yeah, so? Cocaine is taken predominatly by relatively wealthy men in their twenties, any fule kno that.

... the number of cannabis users needing treatment fell from 171 to 96 – and heroin overdoses fell from 1,962 to 1,530. Isn't that something to celebrate - out of one or two million cannabis users, only 96 needed treatment? Ditto heroin, with 300,000 users?

Last month the Government revealed drug-related hospital admissions had soared by more than a third since 2002. Many of the 215,447 admissions were for legal drug overdoses or accidental poisoning. So, er, by these figures, illegal drugs caused about 3% as many admissions as legal ones? And even legal drugs only accounted for 2% of all admissions (approx. ten million). Hardly a f***ing epidemic, is it?

H/t EUReferendum, who makes further very interesting points.

Thursday 22 May 2008

NHS Fuckwittery (9)

Shock! Horror!

Under the heading "Hospital alcohol admissions soar" comes this factoid: Alcohol was the main or secondary cause of 207,800 NHS admissions in 2006/7, compared to 93,500 in 1995/96.

Let's crunch those numbers:
1. Total NHS admissions approx. 10 million per annum.
2. Total spending on NHS in 2006-07 = £82 billion.
3. £82 billion ÷ 10 million x 207,800 = £1.7 billion* (assuming that average cost of an 'alcohol related admission' is the same as the average cost of all admissions)
4. Total alcohol duties collected in 2006-07 = £8 billion (from Tab C4), plus 50% for VAT = £12 billion.

So I think this is the usual BBC-Nulab alliance softening us up for yet more bansturbation. Wouldn't a more appropriate headline have been something like "Nulab drives nation to drink"?

* The Institute of Alcohol Studies reported that the cost was £1.7 bn back in 2004 (see page 8 of this), so this looks about right. Yes, there is such an Institute! All I can say is, I have been studying the effects of alcohol very closely for over a quarter of a century, and I am still none the wiser, heck knows what sort of breakthrough they're hoping for.