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Home > Trends in alcohol and drug admissions to psychiatric facilities.

Millar, Sean (2021) Trends in alcohol and drug admissions to psychiatric facilities. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 78, Summer 2021, pp. 23-24.

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The annual report published by the Mental Health Information Systems Unit of the Health Research Board, Activities of Irish psychiatric units and hospitals 2019,1 shows that the rate of new admissions to inpatient care for alcohol disorders has decreased.

In 2019, some 1,090 cases were admitted to psychiatric facilities with an alcohol disorder, of whom 301 were treated for the first time. Figure 1 presents the rates of first admission between 1999 and 2019 for cases with a diagnosis of an alcohol disorder. The admission rate in 2019 was lower than the previous year, and trends over time indicate an overall decline in first admissions. Approximately one-third (33.6%) of cases hospitalised for an alcohol disorder in 2019 stayed just under one week, while 31.2% of cases were hospitalised for between one and three months, similar to previous years.

In 2019, some 1,090 cases were also admitted to psychiatric facilities with a drug disorder. Of these cases, 440 were treated for the first time. Figure 2 presents the rates of first admission between 1999 and 2019 of cases with a diagnosis of a drug disorder. The admission rate in 2019 was higher than the previous year, and trends over time indicate an overall increase in the rate of first admission with a drug disorder since 2011. It should be noted that the report does not present data on drug use and psychiatric comorbidity; it is therefore not possible to determine whether or not these admissions were appropriate.

Source: Daly and Craig (2020)

Figure 1: Rates of psychiatric first admission of cases with a diagnosis of an alcohol disorder per 100,000 of population in Ireland, 1999-2019

Source: Daly and Craig (2020)

Figure 2: Rates of psychiatric first admission of cases with a diagnosis of a drug disorder per 100,000 of population in Ireland, 1999-2019

 Other notable statistics on admissions for a drug disorder in 2019 include the following:

  • Less than one-half of cases hospitalised for a drug disorder stayed under one week (49.8%), while 98.7% were discharged within three months. It should be noted that admissions and discharges represent episodes or events and not persons. 
  • 17.3% of first-time admissions were involuntary. 
  • Similar to previous years, the rate of first-time admissions was higher for men (14.7 per 100,000) than for women (3.9 per 100,000). 

1   Daly A and Craig S (2020) Activities of Irish psychiatric units and hospitals 2019 main findings. Dublin: Health Research Board. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/32386/

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