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The State of the City’s... drink and drug culture

More of us are clogging up A&E after too many beers, but we're not the worst according to Simon Binns

Written by . Published on August 7th 2010.

The State of the City’s... drink and drug culture

Most of us like a drink every now and again especially with the stresses and strains of work and a recession.

Findings of a face-to-face survey with 1,000 local adults showed that respondents with 'otherwise healthy lifestyles and those who are the most well-off' are all more likely to consume alcohol on a regular basis

But according to the most recent State of the City report, which tracks Manchester’s social and economic performance, more people are ending up in the city’s hospitals through alcohol-related episodes. Although we're not bad compared to other regions on some stats.

Between 2002/03 and 2008/09, the alcohol-related admission rate in Manchester increased by an average of 13 per cent a year, compared with an annual national average increase of around 10 per cent.

In 2008/09, 10,507 Manchester residents were admitted to hospital for alcohol-related conditions – an age-standardised admission rate of 2,568.6 per 100,000 people. This compares with a rate of 1,582.7 across England.

Alcohol misuse costs the National Health Service £2.7bn a year – a massive drain on public funds as well as staff time. When you add to that the associated cost of the crime and disorder, family breakdown and absence from work that alcohol misuse can often lead to, it actually costs the country £25.1bn a year.

So who’s drinking the most? Interestingly, findings of a face-to-face survey with 1,000 local adults carried out in March showed that respondents with 'otherwise healthy lifestyles and those who are the most well-off' are all more likely to consume alcohol on a regular basis, answering ‘once or twice’ or ‘three or four days’ a week.

People like, well... us.

The survey also found that 56 per cent of Manchester blokes consume alcohol at least once a week, while 47 per cent of women do the same.

This actually is far less than the national average where 78 per cent of men and 51 per cent of females reported drinking alcohol in the previous week.

Almost a fifth (17 per cent) of Mancunians reported levels of alcohol consumption over a normal week that exceeded the recommended number of units, however.

Manchester City Council’s Drug and Alcohol Strategy Team wants to slow the rate of the increase in alcohol-related admissions in Manchester by one per cent a year between 2008/09 and 2010/11.

The city’s second alcohol strategy was launched in September 2008, which includes the usual education, prevention, training and care measures. But if it’s the haves rather than the have-nots who are drinking more, is it right to seemingly concentrate on the disenfranchised? Do we need to put billboards up next to the offices of bankers, lawyers, accountants (and journalists) as well as halfway houses?

Another strategy to try to stop drunks ending up in hospital is the Alcohol Arrest Referral Scheme, which offers 'brief advice sessions for arrestees where alcohol is a factor in their offence.' The scheme is operated by Greater Manchester Police and NHS Manchester and in my day, was known as a 'ticking off'.

Working with the city’s bars and pubs is also a city council policy and this week saw plans floated for a new bylaw that would make it illegal to sell alcohol for less than 50p a unit.

Harder to control than drink, however, is drugs.

Drugs, said the report, can have 'a very severe adverse impact' on people and even cause the rather unpleasant sounding 'death'.

And where the report could provide us with a wealth of stats and graphs for drink abuse, information was largely lacking when it came to drugs.

'It is not possible to be sure how many Manchester residents use drugs,' it said, 'however, the Home Office has estimated that approximately 6,788 adult residents of Manchester use heroin and or crack cocaine'.

The majority of adults entering treatment services in Manchester use these drugs, it said, and admissions had gradually increased in recent years, although this may be more to do with increased data collection than a spike in actual drug-taking.

The report claims that 'patterns of drug misuse are changing in Manchester,' however. 'The use of image and performance-enhancing drugs, particularly steroids, appears to be increasing, and young people and younger adults who misuse substances are now less inclined to use heroin and crack and more likely to use other drugs and alcohol, often in combination,' it said.

And therein lies the problem – when drugs and drink become a fashion accessory, and tastes in both change depending on trends, recording its use becomes more difficult. One thing is certain though – if you’ve had too much of both and end up in hospital, the stats suggest you’re part of the problem, not the solution.

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12 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

LiamAugust 4th 2010.

The vast majortiy of drinkers are responsible, so why should we be faced with this "blanket punishment" for some scrotes who decide to cause missery for other people?

People who abuse drink and drain resources as described in this article should be punished. The NHS should fine drunks who go to A&E and the justice system needs to stop allowing the "sorry I was drunk" line as an excuse.

NortherngeezerAugust 4th 2010.

You'll be wanting to introduce a fat tax on burgers next liam.

pint anyone?August 4th 2010.


John HarrisAugust 4th 2010.

There are plenty of existing laws to deal with drunks, without having to start oenalising responsible drinkers.

The solution is to resource the police properly to make full use of their powers

DrugsAugust 4th 2010.

What is it all about? Go get a dog or join a gym if you're bored...

Nice PictureAugust 4th 2010.

is that Simon Cowell?

Arran SummerhillAugust 4th 2010.

the effects of Alcohol are too varied to summarise. I prescribe the piss cans who come to my surgery to adapt the mediterranean lifestyle.
Wine only, take with olives and bread.
They love it and Weatherspoons trade in antipasto has gone through the roof!!!

AnonymousAugust 5th 2010.

for John the Brief. You are quite right. Current efforts in my part of town include action on drunkenness, and violence. This involves arrests, visits to bars by uniformed officers, and dispersal of 'undesirables'. (I have observed the latter myself). There have also been a number of enforced bar closures in the City Centre (they reopen under new management)

A&E at MRI did have a research project about entertainment related alcohol issues but I don't know what happened to it.

HOWEVER this report is really about hospital admissions for alcohol related conditions, .... peeps boozing at home like me... superior booze of course.

There is a report by Lancaster Uni on the use of drugs in clubs which coupled to violence by drug dealers played some part in getting the police action I mentioned above.

michele hAugust 5th 2010.

Think we need to realise that alcohol is as much a factor in the unpleasant sounding 'death' as drugs are. Drugs are vilified (unless it's 'trendy professional drugs' like cocaine)because of sterotype junkie images but how many professional boozers quaffing their G&T's and Sancerres have ended up 6 foot under as a result of alcohol related incidents such as accidents and fights I wonder?

SteveAugust 7th 2010.

you f*cking hypocritical shock jock headline grabbing f*ck faces. you've got an offer for unlimited wine in beluga you f*cking prick.

My respect for you has ended, your dead to me now.

EditorialAugust 7th 2010.

Steve, this is called a news piece, from an official city report. We'll always encourage a healthy bit of bon viveur lifestyle. Read the piece, it's interesting - take your time maybe because with all that cursing you sound a bit drunk. Listen free will is free will you don't have to take up literally - to the word - the offer of unlimited Beluga wine, you don't have to pour it down your neck from the bottle. But wine is good with food. The great thing is you can pace yourself with the offer not binge it. Although we like a good binge occasionally at Confidential. Indeed as far as most of Confidential is concerned we ruin that 56% of males drink at least once a week stat above. Let's not get on to how much the ladies of Confidential drink.

Paul MastersAugust 8th 2010.

Steve the wine is that shite in beluga nobody gets pissed

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