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Nolan's booze addiction fear after shock Northern Ireland death figures


Stephen Nolan

Stephen Nolan

Stephen Nolan

Broadcaster Stephen Nolan says he is terrified of developing the same kind of addiction to alcohol as he has to food.

The BBC presenter was commenting after new figures revealed that more than 3,500 deaths in Northern Ireland between 2001 and 2016 were attributed to drink.

Speaking on his Radio Ulster show yesterday, Mr Nolan said: "We are all susceptible to different addictions aren't we? There are so many landmines as you walk through life.

"I have been caught by food, clearly, and a bad diet. That is probably really harming me.

"I drink only once or twice a year maximum, as in two nights.

"And people wonder why, and the reality for me is because I eat so much, I am terrified of developing the same type of addiction to alcohol. I am terrified of it, actually."

Coroner Joe McCrisken told the show that alcohol misuse is the "greatest healthcare problem" facing us.

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He said that although the new figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency are shocking, they probably underplay the scale of the issue.

"We have an enormous problem with alcohol use, misuse and abuse in Northern Ireland," he said. "The figures are frightening because they show that the number of alcohol-related deaths is increasing, so it's important to raise awareness about the dangers.

"I've spoken before about how worrying the drug-death statistics are in Northern Ireland, but alcohol deaths dwarf those figures in terms of the sheer numbers."

From 2006 to 2016, there were more than 1,500 more alcohol related-deaths (2,668) in here than deaths connected to drugs (1,149).

Alliance Party health spokeswoman Paula Bradshaw said: "Yet again we see a matter of life and death is not getting the attention it needs because of a lack of a functioning Executive. We cannot put in place or even debate legislation such as alcohol pricing while the two largest parties continue playing games."

SDLP health spokesman Mark H Durkan said: "We as a society need to wake up to alcoholism in the city and our 'drinking culture'.

"People need to challenge their perceptions of what alcoholism looks like - in many cases, it is hidden behind closed doors. We need to promote safe drinking and raise awareness of the pitfalls of not drinking sensibly.

"Political parties here had all agreed on the benefits of minimum unit pricing - however, in the absence of an Assembly, this cannot be progressed."

Sinn Féin health spokesman Pat Sheehan said: "Solutions need to be found to address the dangers of alcohol on people's health. Sinn Fein support the introduction of minimum unit pricing, which puts a minimum price per unit of alcohol on products and brands of low cost and high alcohol volume. This would target harmful and over-consumption of alcohol."

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