Same old story, different town. The socially acceptable drug rollercoaster just keeps crashing along. Last orders anyone?
This appeared in the Doncaster (UK) free press yesterday:
TOWN'S 10,000 BOOZE ADDICTS
MORE than 10,000 people in Doncaster are thought to be addicted to drink yet fewer than 3.4 per cent of them are receiving treatment, a report reveals.
Experts say that although alcoholism is a major public health problem in the borough, services fall short of what is needed to meet national guidelines.
Primary care trust bosses have been told they must expand services, especially specialist provision for young people with drinking problems.
A report for Doncaster West PCT estimates that 49,094 people aged over 15 - 21 per cent of the population - 'misuse' alcohol.
Of these, 38,289 drinkers, while not yet experiencing problems, are taking risks which are likely to result in health and other problems and 10,806 are dependent on alcohol.
Although the group with serious problems were judged to need both clinical and psychological therapies, only 337 actually received any during 2004/05. Less than one per cent of drinkers thought to be taking risks accessed services.
The report makes a range of general recommendations about the way services are run which will be used as a basis for more detailed plans.
These include developing and expanding services, raising awareness and ensuring different agencies work together.
It recommends that there should be a focus on developing services to help young drinkers - highlighted in a previous review as being non-existent.
A trust spokesman said: "Prior to this alcohol needs assessment, we had not understood the full picture of alcohol use in Doncaster.
"Now we know what the problems are we are looking at the options available to improve services and seeing where funding is available. The report is a starting point and will inform work being carried out by the borough's alcohol strategy group which involves agencies including the NHS, police, and the council."
Doncaster has the highest death rates from alcohol-related disease in the Yorkshire and Humber region at 14.1 per 100,000 people and causes about 600 hospital admissions each year.
Alcohol use was blamed for the crimes of 342 offenders sentenced by Doncaster courts in 2005.
It is also viewed as a significant factor in domestic violence, rape, unwanted pregnancies and suicide.