The number of people in Surrey admitted to hospital with alcohol-related illnesses has more than doubled in the last decade.
Figures unveiled for Alcohol Awareness Week show there were 1,532 admissions per 100,000 people in Surrey in 2011/12 due to drinking, up from 695 in 2002/03.
It is estimated that treating people for alcohol-related problems costs the NHS in Surrey more than £70 million each year. The long-term health risks associated with alcohol include cancer, stroke, heart disease, liver disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
The rise comes as public health experts warn people that they could be putting their health at risk simply because they are unaware of the recommended drinking limit.
Gail Hughes, of Surrey County Council’s public health team, said: “It’s really important that people are aware of the drinking guidelines and try to keep to them. Many people like to unwind with a drink at the end of the day, but it can easily become two or three and this habit could damage people’s health.”
The current UK recommended guidelines are that men should not regularly drink more than three to four units a day and women should not regularly drink more than two to three units a day, with at least two ‘dry’ days a week. A large glass of wine or a pint of strong lager contains about three units of alcohol.
Residents are being invited to use the Change4Life drinks tracker to find out whether they are drinking above the recommended limits. The tracker also shows people how many calories are in each drink and how much it’s costing them. A smartphone app is also available to download which allows people to track their drinking habits.
Michael Gosling, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Health and Wellbeing Board said: “The more alcohol people drink and the more often they drink it, the greater the risk to their health. Drinking less now will make a big difference to their health in the future but it can also have some immediate benefits such as having much more energy, losing a bit of weight and sleeping better.”
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