Wales

Alcohol abuse rise sparks minimum pricing call

Man drinking a pint of lager Image copyright PA

More than half of people referred for help with substance misuse in Wales have alcohol problems, prompting calls for a minimum pricing.

In 2013/14, nearly 13,500 of the 24,806 referrals were because of alcohol, Welsh government figures have shown.

Both figures are up on the previous year. Heroin and cannabis referrals are also up.

Drug and alcohol charity Cais said it is "astonishing" minimum price is not already in place.

"Part of the answer for me is around the pricing strategy," said Clive Wolfendale, chief executive of the charity.

"It's long overdue and there's a huge weight of evidence that it can have an impact. People are stopping smoking because there's clear recognition of the health risks and because they have become so expensive.

"Some clients say they don't care how much it costs, they will get it. Someone with a long term problem will beg and steal.

"But we can dissuade the student binge drinkers of today from turning into tomorrow's addicts with higher prices and health education."

Mr Wolfendale acknowledged the Welsh government is planning to introduce minimum 50p per unit pricing but accepted there were European law "issues" around it along with the power drinks companies have.

The figures show the biggest age group for alcohol problems is those aged between 30 and 49.

He said pressures of life can turn these people to alcohol for a "release" but added the life experience can help them turn themselves around.

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