This week, our Trust is focusing on raising awareness around alcohol misuse and the impact it can have on your health. The North East as a whole has a 45% higher death rate from liver disease than anywhere else in the UK. Here in North Tees and Hartlepool, we have had 608 alcohol related admissions over the past two years. That’s over 25 people each month being admitted for special care as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.
I spoke last week about the Long Term Plan and its focus on ‘prevention’ work and actively managing population health. It’s clear from these numbers that alcohol misuse is prevalent within our society and it is our responsibility as health care professionals to contribute to the solution alongside our community partners.
Whilst alcohol is a source of pleasure for many, it can be the cause of significant harm for others. Alcohol is an addictive depressant drug and a major cause of illnesses such as liver cirrhosis, cancers, heart disease, and social problems including social exclusion, unemployment, homelessness, violence, disorder, health inequality, teenage pregnancy and accidents.
So what are we doing to tackle it? Our Trust is working closely with Change Live Grow, an alcohol referral service that offers advice to our patients who are struggling with alcohol addiction. They offer incredible support, taking a holistic, whole family approach to understand each user’s family dynamics and identify any wider support needs.
We are also running our alcohol awareness campaign over the next few weeks to promote #BetterHealthBetterSelf. Members of staff from across the Trust will share their story of how alcohol abuse impacts their work, often placing them in significant danger. You will also hear form our Medical Director, Deepak Dwarakanath who will be making a plea to the public to reduce their drinking and reduce their risks. These are all really important directives, which will of course be accompanied by some self-care guidance for those who are affected by the messages.
There are also some wider initiatives in place to offer support and advice to those suffering with alcohol misuse. Balance North East is working hard to encourage people to reduce their alcohol consumption by focusing on three key areas of activity; education and informing, sharing best practice and calling on the government for change. Their latest campaign is encouraging adults to have ‘drink free days’ as a way of reducing alcohol intake over the week.
The UK Chief Medical Officer’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines suggest adults should drink no more than 14 units per week, and these should be spread over at least three days. We know that over 1 in 4 adults in the North East are exceeding this advice, and it’s not the younger generation either. So why not make a change and join us for our ‘One Week Alcohol Free’ initiative. Take a week off and reflect on your relationship with alcohol.