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Scots are drinking themselves into early grave

Scots are drinking themselves to death faster than Ever as the nation’s disturbing booze-binge culture starts to take its toll among thirtysomethings.

Hospitals are now being swamped with more than 100 patients needing treatment for alcohol-related conditions Every Day, the frightening new NHS figures show.

Liver disease has trebled in the past 15 years. But it’s up a whopping 500 per cent for those in their 30s – with a shocking Sevenfold increase for women in their 20s since 1990.

Alarmingly, death rates from liver disease among patients in their 30s have risen five times over in the past 25 years.

Last night Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the figures are yet more “grim” proof that serious and swift action is needed to break Scotland’s “love affair” with the booze.

And she repeated her call for a price hike to end cheap alcohol deals and help wean Scotland off the bottle – with the figures showing that 270 kids under Fifteen were also treated in hospital.

She said: “These shocking statistics make grim reading and provide yet more evidence that we must turn the tide of alcohol harm.

“Scotland’s love affair with drink is well documented.

“We’re taking radical and decisive action to tackle pocket-money prices which – as the World Health Organisation recognises – help to drive consumption and harm.

“Most worrying is the rise in alcohol-related problems among young people, who are putting themselves at risk of serious health problems.

“Alcohol is now around 70 per cent more affordable than it was in 1980 and, over the same period, consumption and alcohol-related harm have spiralled. These factors are not unrelated.”

Ms Sturgeon insists an index that links alcohol content to price is the only way to turn the tide. She said: “Cheap alcohol is making a serious situation even worse. By linking price to product strength, minimum pricing will put an end to the sale of high-strength alcohol for less than the cost of bottled water.

“This will help to address the staggering cost to Scotland – both in economic terms and in terms of lost or blighted lives.”

The NHS figures show the problem is rapidly accelerating out of control. In the past five years, people treated for alcohol-related problems has increased by nearly 10 per cent overall. Among those aged 30-34 the increase is even steeper – up by 22 per cent. For those aged 35-39, the rise is 19 per cent.

Jack Law, chief executive of the anti-addiction charity Alcohol Focus Scotland, agreed the trend in younger boozers dying from drinking too much is a serious concern.

He said: “Cirrhosis of the liver is commonly associated with older people. These figures are alarming – we now see much younger age groups dying from drinking too much.

“To lose young Scots in their 30s to illnesses such as cirrhosis of the liver is an unnecessary tragedy which could be avoided by stopping alcohol being sold at rock-bottom prices. We need to see urgent action, such as the introduction of minimum pricing to help cut down our levels of drinking and ultimately reduce our health problems and deaths.”

Responding to the figures last night, Lib Dem health spokesman Ross Finnie said the booze scourge blighting our nation is storing up even MORE problems for the NHS in the future.

He said: “Changing Scotland’s drinking culture was never going to happen overnight.

“The massive jump in chronic liver disease is a reminder that even if we do change the drinking habits of this and the next generation, we will still have to treat the thousands of Scots whose habits didn’t and won’t change quick enough. The NHS needs to be prepared for another surge in chronic liver disease.

“The Government must make sure that the right staff are in place and the resources are there to make sure that health boards are ready.”

Scottish Sun doctor Carol Cooper also described the figures as “alarming” – especially for young women.

She said: “Alcohol affects women more because they have less body water and more body fat.

“They can’t tolerate as much alcohol as men but are going out with the sole aim – like male drinkers – of getting legless.

“They face health problems from heavy drinking – including liver, heart and brain disease and even mouth cancer. Increased alcohol intake can also effect a woman’s fertility. There is no easy solution to the rise in people with chronic liver disease. Minimum pricing of alcohol may be one way of reducing the amount of alcohol people drink – but it’s a very complex problem.”

Labour are still fighting any moves to increase the price of booze.

They believe the Government needs to regularly test problem drinkers and bring in a mandatory proof-of-age scheme for people under 25 – such as retailers’ Challenge 25 initiative.

Labour health spokesman Dr Richard Simpson said: “The sharp rise in rates of chronic liver disease is extremely concerning. I am particularly worried about the large increase in young women who are drinking excessively.

“We know from studies that minimum unit pricing would make very little difference with this group.

“Ministers should stop obsessing about this policy and engage in a serious debate about how to deal with Scotland’s hard-drinking culture.

“We need to consider radical measures to reduce the level of problem drinking – including Alcohol Treatment and Testing Orders, a mandatory Challenge 25 scheme and also better education about the dangers of abusing alcohol.”

source: The Sun

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