North Yorkshire Health and Wellbeing BoardA new report about the work underway to tackle alcohol abuse in North Yorkshire, and the support initiatives available to people who are struggling with high-risk drinking, has been published by the North Yorkshire Health and Wellbeing Board.

Early last year, the Board produced a county-wide Alcohol Strategy, which was developed by North Yorkshire County Council’s public health team in partnership with local borough and district councils; the county’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs); North Yorkshire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner; North Yorkshire Ambulance Service; and North Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC). The strategy is based on information gained from an extensive public consultation process.

“The strategy’s aim is to work with partner organisations ‘to reduce the harm caused by alcohol to individuals, families, communities and businesses in North Yorkshire while ensuring that people are able to enjoy alcohol responsibly’,” said County Councillor Clare Wood, Chairman of the North Yorkshire Health and Wellbeing Board.

“In North Yorkshire, although one in seven adults doesn’t drink alcohol at all, about a quarter of those who do drink are estimated to be doing so at harmful or hazardous levels.

“Alcohol-related hospital admissions are increasing year on year, and nearly 200 people die in North Yorkshire every year as a result of alcohol. Alcohol misuse is also associated with crime, including domestic violence and sexual crime, and features in antisocial behaviour in particular, with over a quarter of incidents associated with alcohol in some areas.”

The alcohol strategy’s aims are to:

 establish responsible and sensible drinking as the norm;

 identify and support those who need help into treatment through recovery; and

 reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder.

The report outlines the progress made in the first year towards achieving these outcomes. This includes:

 investing in personal, social and health education (PSHE) programmes in schools to make young people aware of the dangers of alcohol and drugs;

 working with Trading Standards officers to prevent underage sales of alcohol and ensure businesses know their responsibilities about the sale of alcohol;

 increasing access to identification and brief advice (IBA) interventions to help people to recognise excess alcohol intake and provide advice on safer drinking practices for those who need it;

 increasing access to specialist treatment through North Yorkshire Horizons for people with dependant or hazardous drinking;

 providing local health information to help influence alcohol licensing decisions; and

 investing in the 95 Alive road safety partnership to help publicise local messages about the dangers of drink-driving.

“The alcohol strategy is part of the broader health prevention work North Yorkshire County Council is leading on,” said County Councillor David Chance, Executive Member for Public Health and Stronger Communities.

“This includes funding services to support people who want to improve their health and wellbeing: we fund Smokefreelife North Yorkshire, a free service to help smokers who want to give up; and provide funding for North Yorkshire Horizons, a service which provides treatment and recovery support across the county for adults with drug and alcohol misuse and dependency issues.

“We are also campaigning to encourage people to take advantage of the free NHS Health Check service to spot the early signs of preventable conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and certain types of dementia.”