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Northern Ireland, Comptroller and Auditor General. (2020) Addiction services in Northern Ireland. Belfast: Northern Ireland Audit Office.

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This report provides an overview of the scale of alcohol and drug addiction in Northern Ireland, the structures and systems in place within the health sector for tackling addiction, and the challenges faced by those accessing addiction services

  1. Substance misuse can cause a wide range of harm to the individual, their family and wider society. It is estimated that alcohol misuse alone costs up to £900 million per year in Northern Ireland, including £250 million of costs borne by the Health and Social Care sector. Despite these significant costs, the Department of Health (the Department) allocates a small budget to tackling these issues each year, £8 million for implementing its alcohol and drug strategy and £8 million towards statutory addiction services.
  2. Every day in Northern Ireland, an average of 200 hospital beds are occupied where substance misuse was recorded as a contributing factor. The number of bed days occupied where there was a primary diagnosis of mental and behavioural issues due to substance misuse has increased by over 35 per cent in the last five years. In comparison, in England, these bed days have decreased by almost one quarter over the same period.

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