New alcohol strategy gives campaigners hangover

Campaigners have branded last week’s government alcohol strategy for England as “disappointing”, pointing to its failure to increase treatment schemes for people with alcohol problems.

Kevin Hunt, South West area manager for drug and alcohol treatment charity Addaction, said he welcomed the strategy’s plans to provide people with more ways of getting help, but that an increase in services was urgently required.

“There’s waiting lists all over the country for people with alcohol problems. I applaud the idea of maximising the points of intervention but if you haven’t got the treatment processes to back that up then it’s pointless,” he said.

The government said the strategy aimed to reduce the damage to people’s health and antisocial behaviour caused by alcohol misuse.

Planned measures include increasing penalties for drunken behaviour and providing more support to people who want to drink less but do not require professional help, such as telephone helplines and interactive websites.

It also outlines the creation of compulsory local alcohol strategies by 2008, as part of wider crime, disorder and substance misuse strategies, which will be the responsibility of crime and disorder reduction partnerships, which comprise the police, local authorities and primary care trusts.

Hunt said that the strategies were a positive move but that they needed to be backed up with ring-fenced funding for alcohol services.

The new national strategy is a follow-up to the government’s alcohol harm reduction strategy for England, published in 2004.

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 Amy Taylor

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