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Alcohol abuse in danger of being ignored, AMs say

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image captionAlcohol poses a bigger problem than other forms of drug or substance abuse, AMs claim

The devastating effects of alcohol abuse risk being ignored amid concern over so-called legal highs, AMs warn.

In 2013, alcohol was the cause of more deaths in Wales - 467 - than illegal or legal drug use, which caused 343.

The assembly's health committee wants more GPs to focus on alcohol treatment, and more help given for groups like ex-prisoners, homeless and older people.

The Welsh government said it was spending £50m this year on programmes to tackle drug and alcohol abuse.

Committee chairman David Rees said: "Alcohol and substance misuse can have devastating effects on individuals, their families and communities."

Referring to an earlier inquiry into legal highs, he said "looking at new psychoactive substances in isolation ran the risk of ignoring the scale of challenges presented to our public services and our communities by other forms of substance misuse, particularly alcohol abuse".

The Welsh government said: "The £50m we are investing this year in programmes to tackle drug and alcohol abuse demonstrates our clear commitment to reducing the harm caused by alcohol and wider substance misuse."

A spokesman also highlighted plans to introduce a minimum 50p unit price for alcohol by law.

Angharad Phillips, Age Cymru's health initiatives officer, said alcohol misuse among over-50s had been "largely overlooked".

"Some older people drink more when they retire because the structure and pace of their life changes and they have more free time on their hands," she said.

"Others who face life-changing experiences such as bereavement may also start drinking more and this can go undetected because it is happening in the privacy of their own homes."

media captionDavid Rees, from the assembly's health committee, called for more alcohol licensing powers to be devolved to Wales

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  • Alcohol

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