'Decade' needed to tackle long-term alcohol abuse

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Alcohol abuse centres will be dealing with the problem "for the next decade", one of Wales' biggest charities warned.

Cais said the focus was on the older generation who had been long-time drinkers.

The charity's chief executive Clive Wolfendale added the next task was to stop younger people turning to alcohol.

He pointed to positive signs on that front but said teenagers were experimenting with newer substances like "legal highs".

"The alcohol problem is going to be with us for the next decade," said Mr Wolfendale, who is a former acting chief constable of North Wales Police.

"We can't give up on people who have got themselves in a mess and we'll certainly treat them. We've got to stop the next generation from becoming fixated with the stuff.

"If you look at drinking patterns among teenagers, it's reducing and that's to be welcomed.

'Biggest challenging area'

"That's down to lifestyle education and skills and a new awareness of fitness and keeping well but I think young people will be experimenting with newer substances.

While north Wales-based Cais has seen the balance shift towards dealing with more alcohol cases than drugs over the last few years, Mr Wolfendale believes "legal highs" are the main problem going forward.

Earlier this year, his charity, along with Sands Cymru in south Wales, opposed UK government plans for a blanket ban on the drugs.

They argued the Psychoactive Substances Bill would only drive the drugs underground.

Mr Wolfendale said dealing with "legal highs" would be the "biggest challenging area" going into 2016.

"It's a huge problem that is present across the board. These things come on to the streets at alarming speeds and can be a significant problem.

"Over the next few years, the impact will really hit home."

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