Isles drink abuse too widespread to target one group

ALCOHOL problems in the Western Isles are so widespread that experts find it difficult to decide which section of the population to target.

A new report says moves towards a cultural change must be maintained and developed to make excessive drinking less acceptable.

It says it makes sense to focus on young people, to attempt to reduce future problems. In addition to education and prevention, help must be given to young people affected by adult drinkers. Another study suggests a significant proportion of youth homelessness in the islands is related to parental alcohol misuse.

The report by the Western Isles Alcohol and Drugs Action Team will be discussed by the islands’ health board on Thursday. It shows men in the Western Isles drink more than women and are more likely to drink above sensible guidelines, but youngsters aged 18-24 drink more than older age groups.

Overall, the number of people taken to hospital with alcohol-related illnesses rose by 30 per cent between 1990-2000 and 2004-5, compared with a 21 per cent rise across Scotland. Most of these – 338 out of 437 (77 per cent) – were men, an increase of 23 per cent in the five years.

Over the same period, alcohol-related discharges of women from hospital in the Western Isles rose by 60 per cent, compared with a 20 per cent increase in the rest of Scotland. The report recommends this as a priority area for investigation and action.

Findings among children shows 53 per cent of 13-year-olds in the Western Isles (57 per cent nationally) have had an alcoholic drink, as have 92 per cent of 15-year-olds (84 per cent nationally).

Source: The Scotsman 26th August 2008

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