Belfast Telegraph

I only drink twice a year for fear of becoming drink addict, says BBC's Nolan

By Mark Edwards

Stephen Nolan has said he is terrified he will develop the same sort of addiction to alcohol that he has with food.

The broadcaster was speaking after figures obtained by the BBC revealed more than 3,500 deaths in Northern Ireland between 2001 and 2016 were attributed to alcohol.

The figures were provided by the Northern Ireland Statistic and Research Agency.

Nolan, speaking on his Radio Ulster show on Tuesday, 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."

He added: "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, commenting on the figures, said alcohol misuse is the "greatest healthcare problem facing Northern Ireland".

"We have an enormous problem with alcohol use, misuse and abuse in Northern Ireland.

"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," he added.

Mr McCrisken added: "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."

The corner said that although the figures are shocking, they "probably underplay the scale of the problem".

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

A new definition of alcohol-specific deaths to be used by government and devolved administrations was adopted in 2016.

The new definition includes all deaths known to be caused exclusively by alcohol and excludes all deaths from conditions which are only partly attributed to alcohol.

Nolan has been candid about his problems with food. In 2015 he took part in a documentary called Food on the Brain about his eating habits which he admitted were killing him.

During the documentary Nolan travel to New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Las Vegas to find out how the brain feeds people's hunger for food.

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