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Our boozing leaves the NHS with a costly hangover

Chris Jackson | 07:00 UK time, Monday, 9 January 2012

Graphic showing cost of drink related admissions to Sunderland hospitals. £24.6m

Cost of dealing with drink related cases in Sunderland hospitals.

It's a hangover you can't get rid off with pill or potion. The cost to the NHS of people rolling up to casualty because they've had one to many is astronomic.

Add to that policing costs and as tax payers we're the ones with the sore head. Just look at the bill for every man woman and child in the two communities we feature:

  • £467 per person in Sunderland
  • £650 per person in Middlesbrough

The human cost is astronomic too. The drinking culture in this part of the country means that the North East has the highest number of hospital admissions because of alcohol (According to to the figures we're 40% higher than the South East) and we also have the dubious honour of the highest number of under 18's ending up in hospital because of drink.

Newcastle consultant Chris Record says the youngest person who he's seen with fatal cirrhosis of the liver was just 19.

Graphic; North East has highest alcohol related death rate in England

It's pretty sobering to realise that we have the highest alcohol related death rate in England as well.

It's bad enough if you are harming just yourself.

It's rarely that simple. A family suffers too, as I know only too well.

Both my parents were alcoholics. It's difficult within the home when they are alive. Devastating when, as in my dad's case, he died from it when I was still a teenager.

Not that it has put me off drinking. I enjoy a pint or glass of wine as much as anyone else.

I still like to think though that it will never get a hold on me as it did my folks.

They say "drink responsibly" but what if you're pregnant?

Expectant mum Kirsten O'Brien investigated this burning question for us.

She looked into FAS - Foetal Alcohol Syndrome which shows how only a couple of drinks a week could leave a child with brain damage at birth.

Shockingly she and other mums-to-be said they received next to no medical advice on what is safe or not when you're carrying a child

The advice we found was the only way to be sure you don't harm your baby is not to drink alcohol at all. As one NHS expert put it. if you can't go nine months without a drink, then you do have an acolhol problem.

Mike Parr with a stockpile of wine showing his weekly intake

Mike Parr with the 37 units he normally drinks each week

The men don't get away scot free in this week's show. We challenged BBC Tees presenter Mike Parr to go for just one month without a drink passing his lips. Admittedly the month of abstinence in question was December!

Would he survive the festive period without a tipple? You'll have to watch the show (Monday, 9 Jan 2012 BBC One 19:30hrs GMT) to find out!

If you have a view on any of the stories this week then just add you comments to this blog.

We've also created a special advice page for information and support on alcohol issues and FAS.

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