People who misuse alcohol

People who misuse alcohol

Problems related to alcohol have been increasing in Northumberland across and not just related to health. Whilst some areas of decline in alcohol related problems, for example, drink driving, the overall picture is one of increasing health and non-health related harm.

A whole system response is required in order to tackle these issues. A combination of population based interventions and targeted interventions will be most effective in reducing overall harm in the system.

Key messages:

  • Problems caused by alcohol use in Northumberland impact on a wide range of agencies and activities.
  • The health problems associated with alcohol have been steadily increasing with rises in hospital admissions for both alcohol-related and alcohol-attributable conditions.
  • Unless interventions are put in place to reduce alcohol related harm, hospital admissions are likely to continue rising.
  • These rises are seen across Northumberland with a particularly high rate in the south eastern part of the county.
  • This has not just affected adults, as the number of children admitted to hospital for alcohol related conditions has also increased.
  • The number of people receiving treatment by alcohol services appears to have remained constant over the last few years – this may well be an indication that the services currently provided are running to capacity.
  • Crime related to alcohol has remained constant, however this has to be viewed in the context of falling overall crime rates, which  means that, as a proportion of recorded crime, alchol-related crime is increasing.
  • The number of motorists being tested for drink driving has declined along with the relative rate of positive tests.
  • Alcohol misuse is the single most significant factor in young people’s substance misuse in Northumberland.
  • Northumberland needs to meet the accommodation needs of young people who misuse substances.
  • Resources need to be established to support young people’s and parent/carer’s engagement with designing services.
  • We need to find a better way to supporting parent/carers of young people who have problems with substance abuse.


  • The primary care trust has applied for £185k through the annual operational plan process to improve and expand community alcohol services.
  • Redirection of existing funding is being considered to allow the development of a local enhanced service for screening and brief advice (IBA) in primary care across Northumberland.
  • £83k has been made available as part of the North of Tyne commitment into the regional alcohol office, calculated at 27p per head of population over 16 years.
  • The delivery of alcohol services in North Northumberland is particularly challenging and discussions are underway around the development of peripatetic provision.
  • Ensure that young people who misuse drugs or alcohol have prompt access to support and treatment.
  • This area has been protected in the children’s services budget, given the increase in need.
  • 90% of schools are now accredited with achieving the healthy schools standard, which includes preventative education around substance misuse issues
  • We want to further embed the targeted youth support model, with the work of the FACT teams, so there is a stronger link between identifying vulnerable young people who may not be involved with social workers, but are at risk due to their substance misuse behaviour.
  • Re-commissioning the focus of the children’s fund to Hidden Harm, as it was  identified that the most high needs cases with a safeguarding context often had their origins in parental substance misuse (as well as domestic violence and adult mental health problems).
  • Good education through schools is taking place through the drug education consultant, delivering sessions upon request from schools with a main focus on the effects of alcohol.
  • This has highlighted the link between alcohol use and young people becoming involved in risk taking behaviours – schools are therefore linking their drug education to other areas of the curriculum, particularly sex and relationships education (SRE).


Statistics can be found on the state of health web page

Key documents

The government’s alcohol strategy (2007) set out clear goals and actions to promote sensible drinking and reduce the harm that alcohol can cause. The strategy sets out to minimise the health harms, violence and antisocial behaviour associated with alcohol, while ensuring that people are able to enjoy alcohol safely and responsibly.

NHS North of Tyne strategic plan (2010-2014) aims to improve on well-being and health for people living across Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland. The plan has been developed with the context of health needs assessment, which shows that many of the major health conditions for the population are linked to lifestyle choices.

Northumberland alcohol strategy needs assessment provides the evidence for action plans focused on the following targeted groups:
  • hazardous drinkers
  • harmful drinkers
  • children and young people
  • offenders
The children’s and young people’s plan 2008-11.