Shocking toll of alcohol

SHOCK figures over the extent of alcohol misuse in East Anglia can be revealed for the first time today.One in four men and one in seven women in the region drink at hazardous and harmful levels, according to a new national report.

SHOCK figures over the extent of alcohol misuse in East Anglia can be revealed for the first time today.

One in four men and one in seven women in the region drink at hazardous and harmful levels, according to a new national report.

And every year, 65,000 people are admitted to hospitals in East Anglia after consuming too much alcohol.

Alcohol misuse also contributes towards 42,000 crimes in the region and 2,300 claims of incapacity benefit each year.

The figures were revealed in a report published by the National Association of Public Health Observatories.

It found 16 per cent of men in East Anglia and six per cent of women binge drink, while 5.4pc of men and 3.7pc of women in the region die from a condition linked to alcohol consumption.

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Although the East of England is the best-performing region in terms of alcohol indicators, the report highlighted large variations between richer and poorer areas.

Men living in deprived areas of the East of England, for example, lose 17 months of their life due to alcohol while women lose seven months, compared to five months for men and three months for women in more affluent areas.

Chip Somers, project manager of Bury St Edmunds-based drug and alcohol charity Focus12, said the figures backed up new local data that showed the scale of the problem in Suffolk.

He said 10,670 people in the county were known as “severely or moderately dependent” on alcohol while an alarming 72,072 were known to be “harmful and hazardous drinkers”.

He said: “Many, many people are drinking way over the suggested limits of alcohol consumption, which is currently for a woman no more than two glasses of wine a day and, for a man, something in the region of four units of alcohol a day - the equivalent of a couple of pints of bitter. Of the people presenting to us, they are drinking way in excess of that.”

Dr Amanda Jones, the Suffolk PCT's assistant director of public health, said: “Suffolk PCT is aware of the issues surrounding alcohol and its effects on individuals and the community and is already working in partnership with a number of agencies to address the issues outlined in this report.

“Much of the information presented has been evidenced previously but there is great merit in having it contained within one document.”

The number of severe or moderately dependent drinkers in Suffolk (August 2007)

Ipswich 2,389

Central Suffolk 1,640

Suffolk Coastal 1,574

Suffolk West 3,676

The number of harmful and hazardous drinkers in Suffolk (August 2007)

Ipswich 15,359

Central Suffolk 10,544

Suffolk Coastal 10,122

Suffolk West 23,633

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