Awareness week educates county of alcohol risks

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AS PART of alcohol awareness week, people across West Sussex are being encouraged to re-think the way they consume alcohol.

Running from Monday to Sunday, the awareness week, organised by Alcohol Concern, aims to get people talking about the health risks and social problems associated with alcohol.

Figures released this year via the Office of National Statistics showed there were 17,600 alcohol-related NHS hospital admissions in West Sussex in 2011/2012.

Of these, 3,700 were wholly-attributable to alcohol with the other 13,900 partly-attributable to it.

Christine Field, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for community well-being, said: “When we talk about alcohol we tend to focus on binge drinking, underage drinking or anti-social behaviour.

“But it’s important to talk more openly about some of the other issues related to alcohol that can put our health at risk. Increasingly people will drink in the privacy of their own homes, yet they don’t realise they are drinking over the recommended amounts of alcohol and as such could be putting their long term health at risk.”

Consuming one large (250ml) glass of wine on five nights of the week for women or two pints of beer on five nights of the week for men is deemed risky.

Cllr Tom Wye, Worthing cabinet member for health and well-being said: “I am fully aware of what excess drinking does to the body and to the emergency services. I ask everybody to think before they drink and drink in moderation.

“In the festive season we do not want anyone to end up in A & E because they went over the top at a party.”

In 2013 so far, 28 people under 18 attended Worthing Hospital’s A&E department as a result of an alcohol related issue. Seventeen of these were related to alcohol poisoning and seven of them had to be admitted.

The estimated cost of treating these patients is between £60 and £163 per admission depending on the nature of the investigations and treatments required.

A spokesperson for the West Sussex branch of Addaction – a drug and alcohol treatment charity, said: “For me the whole point about the week is to make people aware of what they drink and the importance of what impact that has on their health.

“In West Sussex we probably have more people unaware of what they are drinking and probably would not think they have a problem.”

She added that Addaction in Worthing held daily open access sessions (Monday-Friday) for adults between 10am and 3pm at Burfree House, Teville Road or telephone 01903 237038.

Alcohol Concern will be running Dry January in 2014; a challenge for social drinkers to give up alcohol for 31 days.

To find out more, visit www.dryjanuary.org.uk