As alcohol hits the headlines again, experts at Rotherham Hospital reinforce the importance of being alcohol-aware.
Following a recent study which suggests that alcohol causes more harm to society than any other drug, Dr Barbara Hoeroldt, Consultant Physician & Gastroenterologist at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, is encouraging local people to be more aware of the risks of alcohol misuse. She says: “The sad truth is that in South Yorkshire the scale of alcohol misuse is quite high, with figures being particularly high in Rotherham. Binge drinking has no doubt contributed to this, but also the fact that alcohol is now more readily available and at a much cheaper price.
“This means that the problem has become more widespread, affecting both sexes, across all classes and ages from people in their 20s right through to people in their 70s. The rise of binge drinking means we are now seeing much younger people being admitted to hospital with alcohol-related disease – in fact the youngest person to die in Rotherham from an alcohol related illness was only 25.”
“Alcohol misuse is commonly linked to liver disease and when we see a rise in one we usually see a rise in the other. But this is not the only risk, as other medical conditions can be affected or caused by excessive drinking, such as high blood pressure, heart failure, weight gain and diabetes.”
Luckily there is some good news, as Dr Hoeroldt tells us: “In Rotherham we are actively tackling the problem through various means and at a number of places. In the hospital we screen patients on admission for alcohol-related health problems and excessive drinking. This is to identify those at risk of harm, to offer advice and treatment and to identify who has an alcohol related illness and may be at risk of withdrawal. Kirsty Roe, the Trust’s Substance Misuse Specialist Nurse, has a very important role in training nurses and other healthcare workers in how to screen patients, how to help those with significant alcohol problems and link in with partner services in Rotherham.”
“The Rotherham Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy group, which is led by the Safer Rotherham Partnership, brings together the local authority, police and health community, whilst the alcohol treatment group, which includes Trust clinicians, managers, local GPs and representatives from NHS Rotherham, looks at treatment availability and access.
“I would also like to stress that, just like most things alcohol is fine in moderation and at very low levels actually does have some health benefits – for example, small amounts of red wine reduces the risk of developing ischaemic heart disease.”
Kirsty Roe and Dr Hoeroldt both give the following advice: “Please make sure you follow the government’s health advice on safe drinking and also be aware that beer and wine are getting stronger, so what you think is one unit may actually be two or three! We would also recommend not drinking for two days a week and not to go over the recommended limit on a daily basis - no more than 2-3 units a day for females and 3-4 units a day for males.
“If you are worried about how much you are drinking I would firstly contact your GP or the local Alcohol Worker at your GP surgery. There are also good support networks in the area, including the Lifeline Rotherham Alcohol Service, where people can make an appointment or just drop-in”