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‘More harmful overall than ecstasy’: Hard-hitting Manchester hospital talk highlights dangers of alcohol abuse

By Jeremy Culley

The dangers of alcohol abuse are the subject of a hard-hitting Manchester talk on Wednesday – with research showing that drinking causes more overall harm than cannabis and ecstasy.

The University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM) will visit Wythenshawe Hospital to discuss alcohol addiction and its wide-ranging health implications.

Manchester has one of the highest rates of alcohol-related hospital admissions in the UK.

Hazel Peet, who will lead the talk and is UHSM’s lead alcohol specialist nurse, said: “Last year the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England topped one million for the first time. [Alcohol Concern predict that] this number will reach 1.5m by 2015, costing the NHS around £3.7bn a year.

“At UHSM we offer interventions and treatment for people with alcohol related health conditions. The talk, which is open to all members of the public, will address these issues as well as educate people about alcohol abuse.” 

Drinking is generally viewed as socially acceptable in Britain but alcohol consumption has been linked to debates on drug use for some time – with some classing it as our ‘legal high’.

Arguments that alcohol is more harmful than certain class B drugs carry great weight when the huge – and still growing – number of people entering rehab for alcohol abuse is considered.

In 2010/11 there were 40% more alcohol-related admissions to UK hospitals than in 2002-03, while the Institute of Alcohol Studies claims more people are dying from liver disease than ever before.

Earlier this year, Mancunian Matters discovered a hidden population of heavy drinkers among middle class and middle-aged people, despite media attention generally focusing on youth binge drinking.

This discussion was in response to government plans to raise the minimum price of alcohol to 40p per unit while in Scotland, ministers have gone further, agreeing to set a minimum rate of 50p per unit from April 2013 onwards.

Such measures appear long overdue with the Big Blue Book of Booze, published by Manchester drug and alcohol charity Lifeline, labelling alcohol a ‘recreational drug’.

They also state: “Every year in the UK somewhere between 9,000 and 40,000 (depending on how figures are estimated) die as a result of drinking alcohol, while about 2,000 die as a result of all illegal drugs put together.”

The talk at Wythenshawe Hospital is one of UHSM’s monthly Health Matters talks and begins at 12pm on Wednesday.

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