A SHOCKING new report has revealed that the cost of dealing with booze and drug-related incidents in Renfrewshire is a staggering £80million a year.
The horrendous bill is made up of the cost of services, such as treating people at A&E departments in our hospitals, getting police to clean up drink-linked crime and calling in emergency services crews to deal with road accidents.
In response to this, a conference has been staged in Paisley this week to bring health workers, police officers and social work professionals together to map out the way forward.
The experts have been looking at ways to help people who have drink and drug problems get on the road to recovery and cut the harm caused to local communities by substance abuse.
The event took place at St Mirrens new stadium in Greenhill Road and was hosted by the Renfrewshire Community Health Partnership (RCHP) and Renfrewshire Council.
Councillor Eileen McCartin, convener of Renfrewshires Community and Family Care Policy Board, said: The human cost of drink is terrifying. It plays a major part in murders, assaults, domestic abuse, house fires, traffic accidents and health problems.
Between 1998 and 2004, Renfrewshire had the fourth highest rate of male alcohol-related deaths in the UK.
Each year, on average, three Renfrewshire residents are murdered in drink-related violence, over 1,500 are admitted to hospital with alcohol-related problems and around 86 die because of drink-related illnesses twice the Scottish average.
The impact of alcohol abuse among teenagers is becoming increasingly apparent.
The Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) suggested that, in the past year, as many as 524 youngsters aged 13 and 984 youngsters aged 15 had been in a fight, been in trouble with the police or stayed off school because of drink.
The financial cost to Renfrewshire is also massive. The direct cost of drink-related crime and health problems is estimated at over £80million a year.
Heroin is the biggest drugs scourge affecting Renfrewshire.
Councillor McCartin added: Drug abuse extracts a similar toll, with heroin being the drug of choice. The effects that we see among people using Renfrewshire drug services are clear poor health, premature death, unemployment and, for around one in four, a prison record.
By staging this event, we are demonstrating that all the organisations involved in fighting substance abuse are working together, both to change attitudes and to make sure that there is help available and that it is the right sort of help.