Drinkers urged to 'go dry in January'

St Helens Star: Organisers hope to get people thinking about their drinking behaviour, and perhaps set them on a path to socialising – or even just coping – without alcohol Organisers hope to get people thinking about their drinking behaviour, and perhaps set them on a path to socialising – or even just coping – without alcohol

DRINKERS are being challenged to go dry in January as part of a campaign that aims to confront a health crisis caused by alcohol misuse.

St Helens is third in the national league table of early deaths from liver disease, as revealed by the Star earlier this year.

Stark findings show that townspeople under the age of 75 are twice as likely to die from alcohol-related liver disease than in other parts of the country.

Worsening death rates And more than over 2.6 per cent of local hospital admissions in 2012 were for alcohol-related harm Now Alcohol Concern is joining forces with St Helens Council’s Public Health team and Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust to rally local support for Dry January.

The aim is to get as many people as possible to avoid or reduce their alcohol intake throughout the month.

Organisers hope to get people thinking about their drinking behaviour, and perhaps set them on a path to socialising – or even just coping – without alcohol.

St Helens Council’s Director of Public Health Liz Gaulton said: “St Helens faces real challenges in relation to alcohol harm.

“But we won’t see any improvement until people start thinking about their own drinking habits – and how they affect the lives of those around them.

“People may have many different reasons for staying off the booze – or even just cutting down – so we’re urging everyone to just give Dry January a try.

“Christmas will be out of the way and I think many will actually relish the chance to take things easy for a few weeks afterwards.”

The campaign aims to make people aware of serious health concerns but also promotes other benefits of laying off the booze.

Health leaders reckon cutting out alcohol will help people shed weight and save money.

With no hangovers there should also be time and energy to spare, as well as improvements in skin condition.

Sign up to the Dry January campaign by going to www.dryjanuary.org.uk.

Heavy drinkers who want to quit are advised to speak to their GP first, as suddenly stopping drinking can be dangerous without professional help.

Cause for concern: What the stats say about St Helens

Figures for 2009/11 show that the mortality rate per 100,000 population in St Helens was 28.5, which is compared to the national average of 14.4.

It is predicted that by the end of 2014 that local rate will jump to 35 per 100,000 of the population.

The town has also been identified as the 32nd worst local authority area (out of 326) in England for alcohol-related harm.

The situation with young people is also extremely worrying, with the town pinpointed as having the 12th highest rate of under-18 alcohol-specific hospital admissions.

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