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The impact of alcohol use on the workload of two accident & emergency departments in north-west England was assessed by blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measurement, inspection of clinical records and interview of all patients aged 16 and over attending throughout a two-week period. The frequency of intoxication was similar to the previous reported rate in Scotland: 13.2% of all patients had a positive BAC. Inebriated injured patients arrived at all times of the day--varying in frequency from 2.5% of midday attenders to 78% of those presenting after midnight. The incidence of alcohol-related industrial accidents was low, but 60% of all assaulted patients were inebriated, many having sustained head injuries. Of patients attending within 2 hours of an accident at home, 19% also had a positive BAC, but 92% of those with ankle sprains were sober. Patients in lower social classes reported higher rates of alcohol consumption. The popularity of beer in comparison to wines and spirits was inversely related to age and unrelated to social class. Alcohol abuse is commonly associated with injuries sustained at home and with assaults occurring in public places. Prevention campaigns directed at the reduction of these types of incidents should be as concerned with the inebriation of the patient as with the architectural, environmental and legal framework within which the 'accident' occurs.