Alcohol use and misuse, self-harm and subsequent mortality: an epidemiological and longitudinal study from the multicentre study of self-harm in England.
Ness J., Hawton K., Bergen H., Cooper J., Steeg S., Kapur N., Clarke M., Waters K.
OBJECTIVES: Alcohol use and misuse are strongly associated with self-harm and increased risk of future self-harm and suicide. The UK general population prevalence of alcohol use, misuse and alcohol-attributable harm has been rising. We have investigated the prevalence of and trends in alcohol use and misuse in self-harm patients and their associations with repeat self-harm and subsequent death. METHODS: We used patient data from the Multicentre Study of Self-Harm in England for 2000-2009 and UK mortality data for patients presenting from 2000 to 2007 who were followed up to the end of 2009. RESULTS: Alcohol involvement in acts of self-harm (58.4%) and alcohol misuse (36.1%) were somewhat higher than found previously in self-harm patients. Alcohol involvement and misuse were most frequent in men, those aged 35-54 years and those from white ethnicities. The frequency of alcohol misuse increased between 2000 and 2009, especially in women. Repetition of self-harm was associated with alcohol involvement in self-harm and particularly with alcohol misuse. Risk of suicide was increased significantly in women misusing alcohol. CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol use and misuse in self-harm patients appears to have increased in recent years, particularly in women. The association of alcohol with greater risk of self-harm repetition and mortality highlights the need for clinicians to investigate alcohol use in self-harm patients. Ready availability of alcohol treatment staff in general hospitals could facilitate appropriate aftercare and the prevention of adverse outcomes.