ALCOHOL dependency is on the rise in Barnsley at a time when treatment services are enduring harsh cuts, a shock new study has revealed.

There are now more than 3,500 residents in the town who rely on alcohol, up by about 100 since 2010, according to Public Health England.

The rate per 1,000 adults is 17, making Barnsley the second-worst area in Yorkshire, Humberside and Lincolnshire, with Hull the most prevalent with 20 per 1,000.

In Barnsley, figures suggest that alcohol-related hospital admissions are 13.8 per cent higher than Yorkshire and Humber and 25.5 per cent higher than England.

Across the last five years, hospital admissions in Barnsley have risen by 15.9 per cent, while levels for England overall have reduced by 1.3 per cent.

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Alcohol addiction treatment experts UKAT say councils have been ‘lacklustre’ in their response to year-on-year rises, which comes at a time when there’s been a 50 per cent closure rate of rehabilitation facilities across the region.

The population across Barnsley has increased by more than 7,000 since 2013, yet the drop off in spend on alcohol treatment equates to almost £2.2m, according to UKAT.

A spokesman said: “Unfortunately alcohol is just as harmful a drug as heroin is, but a lot of people don’t or don’t want to see it that way.

“Councils assume lead responsibility for alcohol service provision back in 2013, giving them full autonomy of how and where they spend their annual public health grant, yet the numbers of people dependent on alcohol and in need of treatment overall is rising instead of falling.

“Although it is marginal, it should be the opposite direction.

“There is no excuse for this.

“Clearly councils have their heads buried in the sand about alcohol dependence because the numbers speak for themselves; in seven years, things have only got worse.”

Quite simply, greater investment in effective treatment facilities, accessibility and awareness will help lower the number of people in this community suffering with alcohol dependence.”

Through the Barnsley Alcohol Alliance, the council has an ‘alcohol plan’ in place, with seven priorities and a number of outcomes it wants to achieve, including a reduction in the number of people diagnosed with alcohol-related liver disease, hospital admissions, crime and disorder and increased awareness and understanding of alcohol related harm across the borough.

Coun Jim Andrews, cabinet spokesperson for public health, said:

“The local alcohol health needs assessment identified that one in four residents drink more than the recommended levels and GP records show that one in seven residents are drinking at ‘increasing risk’ levels.

“There are also a high number of alcohol-related hospital admissions in Barnsley.

“The alcohol plan aims to create a sensible drinking culture across the borough to ensure that everyone who chooses to drink alcohol does so sensibly.”

Barnsley Council’s commissioned alcohol and drugs/substance misuse service is Recovery Steps, delivered by Humankind.

The service has experienced and professional teams who will work with individuals on their journey to recover from alcohol and/or drugs.

They can be contacted for support or referral on 779066, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.