Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Drinking Ourselves to Death in North

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Drinking Ourselves to Death in North

Article excerpt

Byline: William Green Political Editor

PEOPLE in the North East are drinking themselves into an early grave, shock figures have revealed.

Government-commissioned research found alcohol claimed at least one life a day, while men are losing a year of life expectancy and women nearly six months because of drinking.

The cost in crime, jobs and the NHS has also been revealed, with 17,832 cases of violence and 323 incidents of sexual crime in the region attributed to alcohol in 2006-07.

Some 2,690 people also claimed incapacity benefit because of alcoholism.

And drink-related admissions to hospital have rocketed from 31,600 in 2002-03 to 55,904 in 2006-07, with the region seeing the biggest rise in England.

Five North East cities and towns, including Newcastle, are among 20 areas in England with the highest drink-related admission rates.

Nationally, the annual cost of alcohol to the NHS now tops pounds 2.7bn a year.

Last night, North East Minister Nick Brown said: "We cannot go on like this.

We have to win the hearts and minds of local people to sensible drinking."

Newcastle liver specialist Christopher Record said he had warned of an epidemic several years ago. "I said if we took action then, we might see some effect in five years. But we are now five years on and there are still no effective actions being taken."

Dr Record said many patients were now in their 20s and the youngest was a 19-year-old woman, who died of liver disease.

He called for a minimum 50p a unit price for alcohol, meaning a bottle of wine would cost at least pounds 4.50.

Kevan Martin, of the North East Regional Alcohol Forum, said alcohol was taking at least one life a day in the region and a change in the country's drinking culture was essential.

The North East Strategic Health Authority said a lot of work was under way, but it was vital people took responsibility for safer drinking. Northumbria Chief Constable Mike Craik said his force took a firm stance on alcohol-related disorder with campaigns helping cut such crime. …

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