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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 October 2007, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Drink-related admissions rising
Tray of drinks
Thousands of people are being treated for drink-related illnesses
More than 8,000 people in Northern Ireland received hospital treatment for alcohol-related illnesses last year, new figures show.

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety said treatment over the last three years across Northern Ireland cost 35m.

Over the last three years there were more than 24,000 diagnoses of alcohol-related illnesses.

A DHSSPS spokesperson said alcohol was a "major public health issue".

"We know the wide range of problems that can occur when it is misused and consumed irresponsibly, and we remain committed to reducing the overall level of alcohol-related harm in Northern Ireland," they said.

The spokesperson said addressing binge drinking, tackling under-age drinking and teenage drunkenness and alcohol-related anti-social behaviour among the key priorities of the New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs 2006-2011.

The figures exclude the cost of being treated in accident and emergency units or withing a community setting.

The figures were released in response to a question from SDLP assembly member Carmel Hanna.

"Drinking and binge drinking is an ongoing problem in the north of Ireland and one which negative effects on physical and mental health should not be underestimated," she said.

"The dangers of alcohol misuse need to be made clear and prioritised by the department, too many lives are being ruined by alcohol abuse."

NI HOSPITAL ALCOHOL FIGURES
HSC Provider 2003/2004 2004/2005 2005/2006
Admissions Admissions Admissions
Belfast 2,839 2,794 2,796
Northern 1,537 1,640 1,610
South Eastern 1,124 1,387 1,363
Southern 1,161 1,313 1,379
Western 1,096 1,207 1,241
NI Total 7,757 8,341 8,389
Source: DHSSPS



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