'For people like me, alcohol kills': recovering addict calls for tough action from government

Alcohol campaigners have launched a manifesto in Parliament, calling for the government to get a hold of what it says is becoming an "alcohol crisis".

Balance North East is part of a group of charities and health organisations that have launched a cross-party manifesto.

Recent figures show that;

  • Hospital admissions for liver disease nationally rose by 22% last year.

  • The North East has the highest rate with 190.1 admissions per 100,000 of the region's population.

  • The rate of hospital admissions for alcoholic liver disease was also highest in the North East, with 78.8 admissions per 100,000.

Organisations behind the manifesto are urging the government to commit to an evidence-based strategy to tackle the growing health crisis.

A recent study showed strong public support for more action from the government.

Among those backing the campaign is Karen Hutchinson from Ponteland who is in long-term recovering for alcohol addiction.

She first began to drink at the age of 18 and enjoyed how it made her feel.

What started as a way to relax and unwind after a long day, soon became part of her every day.

Karen relapsed in 2019, which lead to her being hospitalised.

Ms Hutchinson had been sober for 15 years when her parents died. An advert for gin on the television triggered her addiction and she relapsed.

She said: "I just thought it would be different this time, I just wanted a couple of drinks to ease the pain and difficulty that I felt, but I had set off that addiction in me all over again.

"It led to me coming to in the RVI in Newcastle, hooked up to a heart monitor and I was starting to flatline. I was going to die.

"Alcohol might just be alcohol to some people, but to some people, the like of myself, it kills."

She is backing Balance North East's campaign for more action from the government.

In particular, she wants tougher restrictions on the sale and promotion of alcohol, to support those living with alcohol dependency.

"I should feel safe in my own home. I try to avoid pubs and places where there is a lot of alcohol, but it is everywhere. The supermarket, restaurants, hairdressers. I don't need an advert to tell me where to find alcohol. I can find it."

A spokesperson for the Department for Health said: "We are taking serious action to support those most at risk... we're investing an extra 532 million pounds between 2022 and 2025 to create over 50,000 places in drug and alcohol treatment services with high-quality care.

"We are also funding the rollout of specialist alcohol care teams in one in four hospitals."

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