Suffolk: More than 20,000 people ‘alcohol dependent’ as fears raised drinkers are failing to control daily consumption

Dr Christopher Browning, a GP based in Long Melford and chairman of the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, raised concerns regular drinkers are failing to keep abreast of their daily intake. Dr Christopher Browning, a GP based in Long Melford and chairman of the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, raised concerns regular drinkers are failing to keep abreast of their daily intake.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
6:00 PM

More than 20,000 people in Suffolk are dependent on alcohol, a new report has claimed, sparking fears that drinkers are failing to keep track of their daily consumption.

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A county council report, to be discussed by health chiefs tomorrow, also said more than one in seven adults – 15.1% of people aged over 18 in the county – consume alcohol at an “increasing or higher risk”.

It said alcohol is linked to more than 5,500 crimes every year in Suffolk, while more than 20,000 people – 3.3% of the county’s population – are dependent on alcohol.

Dr Christopher Browning, a GP based in Long Melford and chairman of the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, raised concerns regular drinkers are failing to keep abreast of their daily intake.

He said it was important people acknowledge how much alcohol they drink in order to avoid reaching dangerous consumption levels and prevent their health from deteriorating

The latest figures show there was a 25% increase in two years in the number of male alcohol-related hospital admissions in Suffolk. It increased from 957 per 100,000 of the population in 2008/09 to 1,276 in 2010/11.

It rose from 527 to 752 for women in the same two-year period.

Dr Browning said: “As a GP I regularly see the consequences of excess alcohol consumption, which can include liver problems, high blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

“It is important that people stay aware of how much they are drinking, both during the Christmas party season and beyond. If you think you have an alcohol problem then do not hesitate to talk to your GP.”

Joanna Spicer, chairman of the Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board, admitted the news was “concerning” as alcohol dependency has a “huge impact” on individuals and their families.

She said the condition badly affects people’s health and wellbeing and is often linked to crime, anti-social behaviour and domestic violence.

Alcohol abuse, a more severe form of binge drinking, develops into alcohol dependence when drinkers experience a craving for alcohol, lose control over their drinking, suffer withdrawal symptoms and gain an increased tolerance to alcohol, meaning they have to consume more to achieve the same effect.

Last month a report by health campaigners Alcohol Concern said 74,696 people in Suffolk are “increasing risk drinkers” – drinking more than the recommended levels of alcohol.

Tessa Lindfield, director of public health at Suffolk County Council, said excessive alcohol consumption is a “significant public health issue” and “particularly challenging” over Christmas.

“We would encourage people to think about the amount of alcohol they consume, and if they are drinking too much or too often, to contact the agencies available for some advice, guidance and support that will help them remain in control of alcohol and not have alcohol control them,” she said.

The report found some 5,615 alcohol-related crimes took place in Suffolk in 2012, a drop from 6,355 in 2010.

Mrs Spicer added: “The Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board will consider the proposed Suffolk Alcohol Strategy which sets out our countywide approach to supporting those affected by alcohol dependency and tackling the problems associated with it.

“In many cases we are already seeing some positive results from interventions already taking place.

“By working across organisations, such as the county council, the NHS and Suffolk Constabulary, we are able to offer a joined up approach when working with those affected by alcohol dependency.”

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