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20,000 addicted to booze 40,000 more on the brink; City has highest drink-related death rate in NW.

Byline: By NICK COLIGAN Political Reporter

ONE in nine men in Liverpool is an alcoholic.

Around 20,000 of the city's male residents are addicted, while almost 40,000 have a drink at least five days a week.

The total includes many men in their 20s and 30s who do not class their binge-drinking behaviour as alcoholism.

But drinking as little as four pints of beer or four large glasses of wine a day is classed as a warning sign.

The figures, compiled from government statistics by local health groups, give the true picture.

Experts today warned that thousands of men faced serious difficulties with their health, families and jobs.

The experts met city leaders at a Liverpool town hall conference to discuss how the city's growing nightlife is contributing to the problem. Dr Paula Grey, lead director of public health in Liverpool, said: "We are all drinking more than people were 10 or 15 years ago.

"It is easy to target Friday night binge-drinkers, but many people do not realise they have a problem.

"The real challenge is to reduce everyone's consumption, not just those we see vomiting in the street."

Government research also shows that Liverpool has the highest death rate from alcohol in the north west, 22 out of every 100,000 deaths.

One in five women in Liverpool drinks more than the recommended safe level of less than 14 units of alcohol a week - about seven large glasses of wine.

Dr Grey said: "Many of these people do not realise they are addicts.

"They might be taking more timeoff work or having more accidents because of their drinking habits."

There are now fears that the combination of Liverpool's flourishing nightlife and the planned relaxation in pub licensing laws will add to the problems.

Dr Grey added: "Liverpool has to strike a balance. We want a great nightlife for Capital of Culture, but we do not want it to have terrible consequences on people's health."

Cath Groves, who works for the Youngaddiction project, said youngsters are influenced by the drinking habits of adults: "Young people want to try it as soon as they can, but they do not have enough information to be safe."

Sir David Henshaw, chief executive of Liverpool council, who chaired the conference, said: "I am concerned about the effects of alcohol misuse on crime and anti-social behaviour.

Does the city have a drink problem? Have your say online at icliverpool.co.uk/feedback' I like to go out as much as possible'

JONATHON Medley is a typical student.

The 19-year-old goes out as much as possible and makes the most of student life while studying computer science at Liverpool university.

Jonathon, of Bold Street, Liverpool, said: "I go out about four times a week, and probably drink about five pints and a couple of double vodkas on a good night.

"How much I drink depends on money, andI will probably drink a bit less in my second year when I have got more work to do."

In response to the shocking figures that one in nine men in Liverpool is an alcoholic, Jonathon said: "I am surprised the figures aren't higher, to be honest.

"Students go out and drink a lot because they are having a good time, but that does not make them all alcoholics - they can stop when they want to Here's what you think WE asked city centre drinkers for their views on the booze survey.

n Craig Johnson, 25, a costs negotiator from the city centre, said: "Surely having a couple of drinks every night or one big night out on a Saturday can't be that bad?

"I think you can make figures say whatever you want

Simon Crompton, 20, a personal assistant, from Mossley Hill, said: "It's worrying because by those standards a lot of people my age could be drinking too much. The warning signs are worth keeping in mind Philip Stephens, 24, a salesman from Childwall, said: "A lot of people don't know how many units of booze it's safe to drink.

I'm teetotal so it doesn't bother me

Nicola Devlin, 22, a clothing retailer from Wavertree, said: "Some people probably do drink four glasses of wine a night or a bit too much on the weekend. Maybe the government has released these figures as a timely warning t o people before 24-hour drinking starts Louise Piper, 21, a law student at Liverpool JMU, from Walton, said: "The report sounds a bit over the top. It's only the minority who are anti-social when they've had a drink and cause problems

Are you an alcoholic

EACH case of alcoholism is unique - but there are warning signs that everyone can watch out for.

Merseyside Alcohol Services Community Integrated Care, based in Liverpool city centre, says people should keep an eye out for the following Drinking the equivalent of four pints of beer or four large glasses of wine every day - orthe same amount totalled up at the weekend.

n Being unable to get to sleep without having a drink, or waking up during the night when you have not had any alcohol.

Interrupting your work routine because of alcohol, such as having to take days off t o recover from drinking.

Making alcohol a higher priority than your family ECHO health reporter Helen Hunt says THIS should be a wake-up call for everyone.

The figures are alarming but many men do not even realise their behaviour could be construed as alcoholism.

The alcoholic of today could be a 20-something with a career who enjoys a pint of two after work, or a young woman who enjoys a bottle of wine with her friends at the weekend before she goes out. People who drink often and in excess need to realise they are putting themselves at risk of long-term damage.

You only have to spend time on a ward where people are waiting for life-saving liver transplants to see the end result.

It is a sombre experience. You only get one liver and one life. It is not worth blowing it over booze

ECHO Essentials

Alcohol Services Community Integrated Care Merseyside House, 9 South John Street, Liverpool - 0151 707 2420Wirral Alcohol Service, 25 Hamilton Square Birkenhead - 0151 647 4999.

n Youngaddaction, 32-36 Hanover Street, Liverpool - 08000 196197Young Persons Advisory Service, 36 Bolton Street, Liverpool - 0151 707 1025

CAPTION(S):

FOOLS' PARADISE: Many men do not think that their drinking habits are a problem - but they could be very wrong; CITY LIVING: Louise Piper, left, and Nicola Devlin enjoy a quiet drink; LEARNING CURVE: Student Jonathon Medley
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 6, 2005
Words:1097
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