Fraser Coast health system flooded with booze abusers

THE FRASER Coast Health system is being flooded with dozens of patients each month who have been abusing or are addicted to alcohol.

In September this year more than 50% of patients at the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Service were seen in relation to alcohol issues - a marked increase from the 40% of patients seen in the previous year.

In 2014, Fraser Coast emergency departments saw 950 presentations which involved alcohol - almost three a day.

The figures show alcohol abuse is a growing problem on the Fraser Coast and comes after a woman who was believed to be heavily intoxicated allegedly lashed out at paramedics who had come to her aid.

Hervey Bay police Sergeant Darryn Morris said some people required "Dutch courage" and would not usually commit a crime unless under the influence of alcohol.

He said they often saw criminals who had their judgement impaired by alcohol.

"That is something that is never going to change," he said.

Sgt Morris said the way police dealt with intoxicated members of the public had changed to mean people were often taken to a safe place to family, friends or the hospital to sober up.

WBHHS ATODS senior medical officer Amalan Shanmugam said 52% of patients seen at ATODS last month were related to alcohol abuse.

"It is a constant problem," he said.

Dr Shanmugam said patients they saw were most often in the 45-59 year old age bracket.

But he said that was not a clear indicator of where the problem lay, as many younger people with alcohol problems may not be seeking help.



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