What do we think of drink? New study has some sobering answers

A sobering survery of the North East's attitude to alcohol was revealed today - and 80 per cent of us think our relationship with booze is '˜unhealthy'.
Colin Shevills of Balance.Colin Shevills of Balance.
Colin Shevills of Balance.

Alcohol awareness group Balance has produced a new study called How We Drink, What We Think. It’s the first-ever state-of-the-region report on the area’s attitude towards the bottle.

More than 2,000 people were surveyed online and it showed;

* Eight in 10 North Easterners think the UK’s relationship with alcohol is ‘unhealthy’.

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* Nearly six out of ten think the Government isn’t doing enough to tackle the problems society has with alcohol.

* One in four drinkers are topping the Chief Medical Officer’s drinking guidelines of no more than 14 units per week.

* Only 16% were aware of those drinking guidelines.

* And of all those who drink more than 14 units, 84 per cent consider themselves “light” or “moderate” drinkers.

* More than six in 10 believed that the industry should pay for reducing alcohol harm.

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* More than half would support a minimum unit price for alcohol.

* 71% of people believe the Government should be responsible for communicating the health risks and harms associated with alcohol.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “This new report clearly shows that we have a problem with alcohol here in the North East and that the majority believe not enough is being done to tackle the harm that alcohol causes. “Most people have a strong appetite to want to do something about it.

“It also shows that in the region we are better informed of the harms of alcohol than the country as a whole; yet worryingly many of us under-estimate the risks we take by drinking above the recommended weekly drinking guidelines.”

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The report highlights that 36% of men in the region are drinking above the guidelines, while the figure for women is 16%.

Colin added: “Encouragingly there is strong support in the region to want the Government to do more to tackle alcohol harm and North Easterners would support a range of measures – from health warning labels on bottles to the introduction of a minimum unit price – to tackle the issue.

“It is high time the Government stepped up and introduced a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy with the intention of making alcohol less affordable, less available and less desirable.

Locally, said Balance, figures show 41% of people on South Tyneside are drinking at risky levels.

And 170 children aged 11 to 15 in the area become drinkers each year.

Also, one in two people have been affected by someone else’s drinking.