Thousands putting health at risk this Christmas due to alcohol

alcohol abuseWhile Christmas and New Year festivities may be associated with drinking alcohol, Britons are reminded not to drink more than the recommended daily amounts to avoid damaging their health.

Accident and Emergency doctors claim that thousands of people could be putting their lives at risk during the holiday period, due to accidents and illnesses directly caused by alcohol abuse.

Newsbeat reports that more than 126,000 people aged between 16 and 34 required hospital treatment because of alcohol in England alone last year.

This startling figure represents a rise of almost 20 per cent over the past five years.

Meanwhile, official statistics show that this number has dropped in Scotland and Wales over a similar length of time, while Northern Ireland has seen a spike in results.

The problem of alcohol abuse is costing the NHS £3 billion to treat each year, with many people being admitted to hospital more than once due to excessive drinking.

Dr Zul Mirza told the radio news show that alcohol-related admission involves an injury or illness caused by booze, which requires medical attention.

"Broken bones, head injuries to long term things like liver and heart. We're not saying you shouldn't drink but alcohol can cause life threatening problems," he explained.

Dr Mirza agreed with tougher action being taken by the government against binge drinking, including more support for those suffering from its effects and the proposed introduction of minimum pricing on alcohol.

He argued that it was a combination of factors leading to the rise in alcohol abuse numbers.

"I think peer pressure plays a part and it's also made worse by alcohol strength being much stronger now. Alcohol is significantly more affordable today than it used to be 15 to 20 years ago," Dr Mirza added.

According to figures released by the NHS Information Centre, to Newsbeat, there has also been a 26 per cent rise in the number of women admitted to hospital due to alcohol in the year 2011/12.

Speaking to the BBC earlier this month, Dr John Marsden, an alcohol and drug dependency expert from King's College London, claimed that there was a worrying rise in functioning alcoholics.

These are people who drink throughout their everyday life and can manage to hold down a job, despite having "a very severe drinking problem that they have been incubating over a very long period".

Dr Marsden explained: "Alcohol problems are difficult to understand because they do not occur overnight. They are hidden from view which makes functioning alcoholics a group we cannot easily help."

However, there is help at hand for those with this problem.

Once someone has been identified as a functioning alcoholic they can seek professional treatment. Alternatively, a friend or family member can offer support and help to find a solution with the aid of trained experts.

Through discussing the problem and admitting to it, treatment can be sought.

Chronic alcohol misuse can be a very serious condition, however with professional help and support, this addiction can be beaten and the risks of health conditions such as liver disease, obesity, depression, heart problems, reduced fertility and cancer vastly decreased.

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