Alcohol abuse is a serious problem right across the UK, causing a great deal of suffering. This type of behaviour not only causes pain for the individual involved, but also to their family, friends, and society as a whole. Statistics from Childline suggest that one in five children is suffering due to a parent who abuses alcohol. This behaviour is also a huge drain on public finances, so the news is that the bill for just Greater Manchester is £1.2 billion year is alarming, while a report from a few years ago suggested alcohol abuse is costing the UK about £25 billion each year.
Manchester Has One of the Highest Rates of Alcohol Abuse in UK
There has been a 150 per cent increase in the number of hospital admissions due to alcohol in the Manchester area during the last decade (Source: Manchester Alcohol Strategy). The culture of binge drinking is costing the city £1.2 billion annually due to increased crime, increased physical and mental health problems, social problems, and loss of productivity. Alcohol abuse causes more problems than all the illegal drugs combined, yet the majority of people seem oblivious to the amount of harm being caused by this behaviour.
The news of the level of alcohol abuse in Manchester is alarming, but it is not all bad news. The city has a higher level of abstainers than many other parts of the country – 20 per cent as opposed to 15 per cent. It tends to be in the poorest parts of the city that people are most likely to drink to excess. It is estimated that there are about 13,000 people in Manchester who would fall into the category of alcoholic or addicted to alcohol – although individuals do not need to reach this level of dependence in order to suffer serious consequences of alcohol use.
How to Deal with Alcohol Abuse in Manchester
The current level of alcohol abuse is worrying and there have been plenty of suggestions for how the problem can be dealt with. Some of these include:
- increasing the price of alcohol even further – it has been suggested that all drinks should cost at least 50p per unit
- removing super-strength beers from sale
- putting more obvious health warnings on bottles containing alcohol – similar to those found on cigarette packets
- restrictions on how alcohol is promoted
- the tax on alcohol should be based on the amount of alcohol in the beverage
- offering better alcohol recovery services in Manchester – if people want help to quit, this help should be easy to obtain
- more training given to health professionals so they are better able to spot the signs of alcohol abuse
- more efforts made to tackle alcohol abuse among the elderly – this group is often ignored in attempts to deal with this type of problem
- a further reduction in the drink driving limit
- children need to be educated as to the dangers of alcohol abuse
- more needs to be done to get the message across that binge drinking is extremely dangerous.
Can Alcohol Abuse Become a Thing of the Past?
Some consider binge drinking a part of the culture, especially in low-income areas, and that there is no real hope of stopping people from doing it. The reality is that many used to think the same way about smoking cigarettes, but there has been a significant drop in the numbers engaging in this behaviour over the last decade. It may never be possible to get rid of alcohol abuse completely, but it should certainly be possible to lessen the misery it is causing. If any other drug were costing the UK £25 billion each year, there would be an outcry, so there is no reason to believe that this cost cannot be significantly reduced. It may take time to change people’s attitude towards drinking, though.