DANGEROUS mobile phone apps encouraging young people to binge drink have been slammed by public health chiefs at County Hall.
With more than 100,000 people already drinking too much in Worcestershire, they are concerned that the hundreds of apps readily available to download to mobile phones or tablet devices are only making the problem worse.
In Worcestershire there are an estimated 82,387 ‘increasing risk drinkers’ who consume more than the recommended levels of alcohol, as well as a further 26,622 in a ‘higher risk’ category who drink at levels likely to cause physical or psychological harm. Last week, Care Minister Norman Lamb told the Mail on Sunday he wanted an investigation into the “irresponsible” games after the paper identified more than 340 alcohol-related apps readily available for download at little or no cost, including the ‘Let’s Get Wasted’ game.
Now, Councillor Marcus Hart, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Worcestershire County Council, has urged young people to avoid the apps. He told your Worcester News: “We would urge people not to participate in any drinking games whether online or in company. This doesn't mean that people can't enjoy a drink, but drinking irresponsibly should be avoided.”
Tackling alcohol-related issues is a top priority for the council’s public health team, with alcohol-related hospital stays in Worcestershire on the rise.
The number of patients attending Worcestershire Royal, Kidderminster and Redditch Alexandra Hospitals with alcohol poisoning or intoxication reached 291 in 2012, compared with just 215 the previous year.
The team, headed up by Dr Richard Harling, is warning that regular binge drinking can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and several cancers – with regularly drinking even just over the recommended guidelines increasing the risk of getting breast cancer by about 20 per cent. A spokesman said: “All drinking games are dangerous for our bodies and should be actively discouraged. “This extreme binge drinking has both short and long- term effects on our bodies.”
Coun Hart is particularly concerned about the impact of alcohol and drinking games with the festive season fast approaching. “We encourage people to moderate their drinking and enjoy social activities that are not centred around alcohol, particularly as Christmas approaches when people can be tempted to celebrate with a few too many drinks,” he said.