Alcohol poisoning rates rise 10% yearly for 5 years

Alcohol poisoning rates in the South have risen an average of 10% annually for the past five years, a new Southern District Health Board alcohol report says.

The Southern health board has the country's highest prevalence of hazardous drinking.

In the 2012 financial year, there were 446 cases of alcohol poisoning. Prepared by Public Health South, the report's purpose is to advise territorial authorities tasked with devising local alcohol policies to fit the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.

The report recommends councils prohibit on-licence businesses from selling alcohol after 2am, and to restrict off-licences to selling between 8am and 10pm.

Councils are urged to read the quotes of southern health professionals in the report describing the harm caused by alcohol.

In some cases, a growth in alcohol-associated conditions outstripped population growth.

While numbers were relatively small, alcohol-induced acute pancreatitis increased 46% annually, alcoholic gastritis increased 50% annually and alcoholic hepatic (liver) failure 36% annually.

Based on a patient survey in emergency departments from January 24 to November 6 last year, the highest prevalence of alcohol-related presentations was at Lakes District Hospital (12%).

Dunedin was 6% and Southland 5%.

The board estimated the minimum cost of the 2579 presentations known to be alcohol-related was more than $1.4 million, which did not include treatment costs.

Underage patients represented 11% of alcohol-related presentations at Southland Hospital, 7% at Dunedin Hospital and 5% at Lakes District Hospital.



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