Hartlepool’s problem drinkers are getting younger

Tees Valley residents are urged to know their safe drinking limits. Photograph by Press Association.
Tees Valley residents are urged to know their safe drinking limits. Photograph by Press Association.
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Problem drinking is having an effect on people at an ever-younger age and the signs of disease have even been spotted in 20-year-olds, a health expert has warned.

Richard Thomas says he only used to spot signs of liver disease in people who were in their 40s, when he first started out in his career.

Richard Thomas, consultant gastroenterologist at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

Richard Thomas, consultant gastroenterologist at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

But now, Mr Thomas, who works as a consultant gastroenterologist at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which treats people from Hartlepool and East Durham, says he is noticing health issues in younger people.

He spoke out to remind people that there’s no safe level of consumption and said alcohol is becoming one of the leading causes of health problems.

The Government’s new guidelines recommended that both men and women do not regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol each week.

Drinking above these levels can increase your risk of heart disease, liver disease, stroke and other diseases.

When I started working as a consultant it was rare to see anyone under the age of 40 with liver disease but now we’re seeing people much younger, some even in their 20s

Richard Thomas

Mr Thomas said: “New research suggests that even drinking within the recommended guidelines, there is still a very small risk of developing health problems.”

He told how boozing was rapidly becoming a main health risk.

“Alcohol is becoming one of the leading causes of health problems,” Mr Thomas added. “It’s easy to get into a routine of regular drinking, without realising you might be putting your health at risk.

“When I started working as a consultant it was rare to see anyone under the age of 40 with liver disease, but now we’re seeing people much younger, some even in their 20s.

The new drink guidelines.

The new drink guidelines.

“Working in medicine, my colleagues and I see the problems that irresponsible drinking causes, but it affects other parts of the health service too.

“You can still enjoy a drink, but know the safe limits and drink responsibly.”