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Addiction expert: 'We must rethink our relationship with alcohol to avoid a health crisis'

Credit: ITV News

A leading addiction expert says we need to rethink our relationship with alcohol in order to avoid a health crisis.

Latest figures show the number of alcohol related deaths here has remained static for a decade.

It comes as a former addict has spoken publicly for the first time about how he almost lost everything because of his drinking.

Dafydd Jones has his story.

Dafydd spoke to Tony Wright, addiction psychiatrist Dr Julia Lewis and chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton.

Details of some charities and organisations who can offer help if you are suffering from any of the issues raised in Dafydd's report are listed below:

Are you drinking too much?

It's caused quite a surprise. But new Government guidelines on how much alcohol we can safely drink have been issued, which say it's safer to drink nothing at all.

Doctors are hoping the new guidelines will drive down rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. For many it's well timed - as dozens of people try to abstain for Dry January.

But as Matt Price reports it's angered some campaign groups.

Are you going out for a 'Mad Friday'?

Hordes of Christmas revellers are expected to hit bars and clubs tonight for so-called 'Mad Friday'.

The weekend before Christmas has become one of the busiest for ambulance crews, the NHS and police - as they deal with people who've had too much to drink.

Our social affairs correspondent Christine Alsford has this special report following the teams of dedicated volunteers trying to make sure everyone gets home safely.

Interviewees include Mandy Harding, Southampton Street Pastors and Tim Fellows, South East Coast Ambulance Service.

Now, some advice for a safe evening from Andrew Russell, Research and Insight Manager at Drinkaware.

  1. Tom Savvides

Drinking to excess - mother talks about her addiction

Alcohol misuse is a well-known leading cause of disease in Britain. It costs the NHS in England around three point five billion pounds a year and is responsible for around 7,000 deaths a year. But there are signs that the health message might finally be getting through. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that in the last eight years, the number of adults who are tee-total has risen by 40%. In the South East, 18% of all adults never touch alcohol. Tom Savvides has been speaking with mother of three Emma Bushen from East Malling in Kent, who says her family was almost torn apart by her battle with drink. He also talks to Emma's husband James Bushen and son Luke. Jackie Ballard from Alcohol Concern also features in this report.


Calls for tougher warnings to be issued for alcohol

Packs of cigarettes have warnings printed on them - to tell smokers of the dangers they face. Should bottles of alcohol have similar warnings too?

Some MPs and members of the House of Lords think so. They've issued a report saying that, because most people don't understand the health risks, it's time to stamp warnings on bottle labels, like Alcohol Kills, or Alcohol Can Seriously Damage Your Health.

Well Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe's on the All-Party Group on Alcohol Misuse. Earlier he told me why he felt the measures would be effective

Taking super strength alcohol off the shelves

More than twenty five off-licences and stores in Portsmouth have signed up to a new scheme to help cut excessive drinking.

Shops are being asked to stop selling any beer or cider over 6.5% in volume, not including premium products.

Shops sign up to a new scheme to help reduce heavy drinking Credit: PA

Dr Andrew Mortimore, Interim Director of Public Health, said, "It is estimated that alcohol misuse costs the NHS, criminal justice service and employers £74 million annually in Portsmouth.

A significant part of this can be attributed to the availability of "super-strength" alcohol. Also, Portsmouth's hospital admissions due to alcohol are above the average for the UK."

Dorset police crackdown on alcohol crime

Police in Dorset will be carrying out additional patrols and offering advice to students during freshers' week to reduce alcohol related crime.

It comes as part of the 'In Focus' campaign which will run over five days from 18th to 22nd September.

It aims to highlight the realities of dealing with drunkenness and alcohol-related incidents.

The campaign coincides with freshers' week - when new students arrive at their chosen universities.

Police hope that a greater presence will help people face up to the problems of excessive drinking.

University Liaison Officer PC Andy Scarratt said: "We will be offering students advice on staying safe whilst on nights out. Our aim is for individuals to enjoy their student experience, but in a safe and well informed way.”

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