The proportion of children permanently excluded from school due to drug or alcohol use in Torbay is much higher than the national average, according to the findings of this year’s Director of Public Health annual report.

Dr Lincoln Sargeant’s 2022 report - which this year focuses on alcohol use - is published today, to mark Alcohol Awareness Week.

The report recommends actions for organisations across Torbay to take and highlights how the public can reduce their drinking.

The report found:

  • there are approximately 1,500 adults with an alcohol dependency in Torbay.
  • the rate per 100,000 young people being admitted to hospital due to alcohol consumption locally is 72, compared to the national average rate of 31
  • Torbay has a higher rate of Child in Need assessments where alcohol is a factor than the rest of England, the South West and other coastal areas. This is an assessment carried out by a social worker to see whether a child needs extra help.

Dr Sargeant said: “Alcohol can be a great social lubricant and for many, it’s not a problem. But for some, it can quickly turn into something they depend on, and this can have harmful effects on health, relationships and livelihoods.

“Many of us have an image of an alcoholic being someone who sleeps on a park bench, but this is far from the reality.

“The damaging effects of alcohol also affect hidden drinkers who may be well-educated and functional in their day-to-day life. They don’t always recognise the harm that results from consuming alcohol over the recommended weekly volumes over a prolonged period.

“These are the people who drink a little too much over time and who can slip through the net as they are unlikely to be viewed as needing support from those around them. This group is at risk later in life from an increased chance of serious ill-health, multiple hospital admissions, and early death from alcohol related diseases.”

Jackie Stockman, Torbay Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health, said: “The report presents a troubling picture of alcohol misuse in Torbay, particularly as it affects families.

“We are fortunate in the Bay to have a good range of support services available to young people and adults and I would encourage anyone struggling with drink – or their families – to make contact.

“For others, it may be a case of cutting back a little – going without drinking for a few days a week or reducing their intake when they do drink.

“Wine and shot measures, tracker apps and low and no alcohol drinks are a good way to moderate and monitor intake.

“What better time than Alcohol Awareness Week to consider our drinking.”

The report recommends:

  • Statutory agencies work closely with voluntary groups to ensure they identify and support children and families at alcohol risk.
  • Health and other partners promote the use of screening tools which can help people see if their consumption is at a harmful level.
  • Educational establishments understand the role of alcohol in school exclusions and what can be done about this.

Local support is available if you think you need help managing your drinking. Contact CheckPoint (for under 18s) or the Torbay Drug and Alcohol Service (for adults and family members).

Read the Director of Public Health’s 2022 Annual Report

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