Wigan has a drink problem

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The number of alcoholics receiving treatment in Wigan is soaring well above the national average.

Figures released by NHS England paint a grim picture of how many people in the borough are on prescription drugs to help battle their addiction.

In 2016, 975 in every 100,000 people in Wigan received medicine for alcohol dependency: almost three times the UK average of 335.

Wigan Council public health director Prof Kate Ardern said: “Tackling the impact of alcohol remains a major challenge and we we’re working hard through the Young People’s Drug and Alcohol service and specialist treatment through the Wigan and Leigh Recovery Partnership to provide information and support for those affected.

“We recognise that figures nationally and locally still need to improve, and we’re confident that many of our new approaches will support us in making greater progress in addressing alcohol related issue.

“Our services across both young people and adults demonstrate our commitment to working proactively to engage with individuals at any stage of alcohol problems to improve health and wellbeing and the impact alcohol can have on the wider community. This includes working with partner agencies such as the Wigan and Leigh Recovery Partnership and individuals to get people into specialist services for alcohol use which is reflected through these figures. We offer a response for all individuals affected by alcohol, not just dependence that requires prescription.”

The borough performs far worse than neighbouring Bolton, which only treated 394 people per every 100,000 last year and it is sixth worst nationally.

Prof Ardern added: “Additional investment has been made in the Enhanced Alcohol Pathway which has seen more people identified early to prevent problems from escalating, and through actively approaching individuals who frequently attend accident and emergency, we have seen a reduction in those individuals re-visiting due to issues with alcohol.”

Most alcoholics being treated are receiving Alcamprosate Calcium, a drug which helps to restore the chemical balance in the brain after an addict has quit alcohol.