Binge drinkers will be a key target in the Welsh Assembly’s 10-year strategy to tackle substance misuse, it announced yesterday.
Data from the assembly shows that 40% of adults in Wales admit to drinking more than the recommended alcohol limits and 20% confess to binge drinking.
It estimates that the economic and social cost of alcohol and class-A drug misuse in Wales is £2bn a year.
The 10-year draft substance misuse strategy, issued for consultation yesterday, will focus on all aspects of misuse but will emphasise the importance of tackling alcohol abuse.
In particular, it aims to prevent young people joining the growing binge-drinking lifestyle and misusing other substances before they enter adulthood.
Currently, 15% of hospital admissions in Wales are linked to alcohol abuse and 30,000 hospital bed days are taken each year by alcohol-related cases. Nearly half of victims of violence in Wales believe their attacker was under the influence of alcohol.
The strategy, Working Together to Reduce Harm, introduces a joint approach to fighting substance misuse in order to reduce the damage caused to individuals, families and society as a whole.
Over the next three years, the Welsh Assembly plans to invest £27m a year, including £9.6m for the Substance Misuse Action Fund.
In addition, £3m will be used to deliver alcohol action plans through the Health Inequalities Fund and just under £11m a year will be ring-fenced to help local health boards tackle substance misuse.
The key areas of the strategy are prevention, supporting substance misusers, supporting families, tackling availability and protecting individuals and communities.
Dr Tony Jewell, chief medical officer for Wales, said: “Reducing substance misuse – and excess alcohol consumption in particular – should be seen as a priority for us in Wales.”
The three-month consultation period will end on 13 May.