Sunderland’s drinking habits revealed

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MORE alcohol was consumed by drinkers on Wearside and across the North East last week compared to almost anywhere else in the country.

New figures released show 61 per cent of people in the region have drank alcohol during the past seven days.

Only the South East, South West and Yorkshire had more drinkers according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

But the region fared better when it came to levels of alcohol consumed on five days or more, with just nine per cent of people drinking every day, second lowest in the country.

The latest figures were published yesterday in the Drinking Habits Among Adults Report.

Young drinkers - aged 16-24 - are much more likely to drink very heavily - more than 12 units for men and nine for women - at least once during the past week.

Colin Shevills, director at Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “We know from experience that people tend to under-report how much they’re actually drinking and there is enough alcohol sold in the UK for all drinkers to be drinking at or above the recommended limits for a man.

“We also know that we are drinking twice as much pure alcohol as we were in the 1950s.

“The North East continues to suffer some of the worst alcohol-associated health problems in the country. Hospital admissions for alcohol-related liver disease have almost doubled in the last ten years and those for alcohol-related cancers have risen by 28 per cent in a similar time frame.

“Almost a third of females and almost half of males are consuming at or above the Government’s recommended limits on a daily or almost daily basis in our region and this report also suggests we still have a problem with vulnerable young and heavy drinkers.

“Alcohol is too heavily promoted, too available and too affordable. We need to implement a range of measures targeted at reducing the impact of alcohol, and introducing a minimum unit price is crucial to this.

“The figures show that strong lager, strong beer and spirits are the drinks of choice for most heavy drinkers and these continue to be available at pocket money prices – further proving the need for a minimum unit price.”

Earlier this year, Wearside’s NHS bosses and health campaigners joined calls for a minimum price on alcohol in a bid to stem the flow of alcohol admissions among young people to Sunderland Royal Hospital and ease the burden on the city’s A&E.

Since 2010, there have been 841 under 18s A&E admissions to Sunderland Royal in relation to alcohol.

A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland said: “We wish all members of the public enjoy the festive season but please consider when having fun that drinking to excess can have a huge impact on other people, both physical long-term damage to the individual concerned, and emotional distress to family and friends who have to deal with the end result.

“Please also consider the nurses, doctors and other NHS staff who have in many instances chosen to work over the holiday period to look after others.

“There will be many people who suffer unexpected accident and illness in the next few days who will need urgent hospital admission and treatment – if our staff are able to concentrate on those emergency cases without distraction from patients who didn’t need to be there in the first place, their jobs will made that much easier.”