ONLY 10 to 15 per cent of Dorset people with a severe alcohol problem are coming forward to ask for help.

Yet more than half of the county’s opiate users do seek assistance, although many fail to see their courses through to the end.

The facts were given to Dorset councillors at a meeting with the warning that despite increased drug use alcohol remains the biggest killer.

Across Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset about 6% of people aged 16 or over are believed to be drinking at higher risk levels; a total of over 37,000 people, with up to 400 alcohol-related deaths each year.

Because of the low percentage of people seeking help for dependent drinking the committee heard that the number of hospital admissions for alcohol related problems had continued to rise.

Locally, in a year, about 3,300 recorded crimes, 240 traffic collisions and more than 8,000 hospital admissions are believed to be related to alcohol with around 375 deaths attributed to excessive alcohol use.

The report concluded: “Alcohol-related harm is concentrated in the poorest areas, even though people living there drink less on average than the wealthiest groups in society.”

Members of the place scrutiny committee heard that the Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset 2016-2020 Alcohol and Drugs Strategy identified three key themes and outcomes: prevention, treatment and safety.

It also acknowledged that despite the county-wide strategy crack use had increased locally. The report says 4,000 people are now estimated to be using crack cocaine, heroin or other opiate drugs across Dorset – with 40 drug-related deaths, 700 hospital admissions and more than 1,500 crimes linked to drugs each year.

It said that better screening is now in place for adults and younger people at risk of drug abuse with appropriate interventions and referrals open to individuals and those around them, including family and carers.

The report said that new strategies were needed to face changes in society: “The issues people face today are not those of ten or twenty years ago.  There are new substances, such as ‘legal highs’; new supply routes, including the internet and ‘head shops’; and new patterns of use and problems associated with more established substances, including problems with heroin and alcohol becoming more common among older people.”

A new strategy is expected to be in place by the end of 2020.