Free alcohol advice is being offered to people in Tameside – which has one of the highest rates of alcohol dependence in England – during national Alcohol Awareness Week.
It is estimated around 14,000 people in the borough are drinking at a level that could put them at risk of health problems or put strain on their relationships.
The borough also has high levels of binge drinking by young people, alcohol-related hospital admissions and deaths from conditions such as liver cirrhosis.
Now staff from Tameside Alcohol and Drug Service are offering confidential advice and support via a dedicated phone support line during national Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs from November 17 to 24.
Free telephone consultations will be available throughout the week to provide support and answer questions around alcohol-related issues.
Staff from Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, who run the service, can offer support on issues such as how to identify if your drinking is becoming a problem, how to cut down and how to count your alcohol unit intake.
Callers can also make a referral to local services either for themselves or for a friend or relative but will not be asked to provide identifying details unless they want to.
Alan Alker, Team Manager for Tameside Drug and Alcohol Service, said the aim was to encourage people who have not previously discussed their own or a loved-one’s drinking to get in touch.
He said: “Most people experiencing problems relating to alcohol will not see themselves as alcoholics and will not drink on a daily basis.
“They may hold down a responsible job and have happy family lives and successful relationships and very few will have thought about contacting treatment services or support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
“Problem drinking might include missing an occasional day at work due to a hangover, arguing with family or friends after drinking or experiencing health problems like high blood pressure.
“We want to encourage people to identify these issues and seek support early rather than trying to ignore or hide the problem.
“Our message is that the right support is out there for everyone, whatever their level of drinking and there is no shame in asking for help."
Angela Hardman, Tameside Director of Public Health, said: “Tameside residents experience high levels of alcohol related harm compared to many other areas and alcohol misuse affects the lives of a large number of local people. Alcohol is cheaper and easier to get hold of than any other recreational drug, and as a result people can easily become dependent on it.
“Often it is children who bear the brunt of alcohol-related harms and within Tameside we estimate that over 9,000 children are being directly harmed as a result of the alcohol use of the adults around them.
“We are totally committed to tackling this issue head on and are working with a range of partners to support those whose personal alcohol use is a problem, and the children who are affected.
“We would encourage all Tameside residents to use Alcohol Awareness Week as an opportunity to reflect upon their own alcohol use, the impact it has on themselves and those around them, and to seek advice and support from the excellent services that are available to them.”
The support line number will be 0161 716 3200 and will run from Monday to Friday from 5pm to 8pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 1pm from November 17 to 24.
The service continues to provide support and advice all year round and can be contacted on the number above.