THE middle classes are full of hidden drinkers who are putting themselves at risk and wealthier individuals are much more likely to drink during the week than their less well off counterparts.

MARY NAYLOR reports.

SEVEN pints a week might not sound like a lot but it is the maximum the Chief Medical Officer recommends.

Ideally, you would not drink at all because there is no safe amount to drink, but if you choose to, the advice is not to exceed seven pints ­— or one-and-a-half bottles of wine a week.

Usually, when the financial impact of poor health is brought up, the finger is pointed at disadvantaged families, but where alcohol is concerned, the middle classes are drinking their way to cancer, heart disease, liver failure, brain damage and dementia.

Higher earners are the most likely people to drink beyond the recommended guidelines of 14 units a week.

More than a third of men in wealthier households regularly exceed this and more than twice as many women in these homes do so compared to those in the poorest households.

Alcohol is costing Greater Manchester £1.3 billion through social care, health problems, crime and missed working days says the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

In Bolton, there are more than 3,750 alcohol dependent adults ­— almost two per cent of the town’s population.

A quarter of adults in Bolton are drinking more than the recommended 14 units and in 2016 around 100 people died as a result of an alcohol-related condition.

Bolton Council’s executive cabinet member for adult social care and health, Cllr Debbie Newall, said: “Alcohol-related harm puts a serious strain on our local services and represents a major threat to the health of individuals and the wider community.”

The GMCA is launching The Big Alcohol Conversation in a bid to tackle the public’s drinking and to brainstorm ideas to improve health and wellbeing.

As part of the project there will be a bus tour roadshow which will visit Bolton’s Victoria Square on Saturday.

Cllr Newall said: “Saturday’s Big Alcohol Conversation event in Victoria Square is your opportunity to help us understand the full scale of the problem and develop a plan to fix it.”

The timing of the roadshow, which will visit 20 locations across Greater Manchester, coincides with figures published by

Its survey of more than 2,000 people found 19 per cent of people admitted they would drink more during the winter months because they were bored and the average person in the North West will spend almost £200 on booze this season.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “Greater Manchester is an amazing place to live and to visit, with a vibrant nightlife and a strong sense of togetherness.

“No one is saying that people shouldn’t enjoy themselves with a drink, but it’s also true that alcohol abuse is causing more harm to people and communities than is often recognised.

“I’m calling on residents and businesses to join in our Big Alcohol Conversation as we seek to minimise alcohol harm.”

The project looks at attitudes to drinking and figures found out there is a vast difference in the way parents think they drink and the way their children see their drinking.

When surveyed 90 per cent of parents felt it was their responsibility to set a good example with their drinking, yet only half of children say their parents’ drinking provides a positive role model. The Institute of Alcohol Studies found adults’ drinking can result in feelings of embarrassment, anxiety, fear and poor emotional health among children. More than 15,000 children in Greater Manchester are living with alcohol dependent adult.

The Big Alcohol Conversation is also looking at the public’s drinking in bars and clubs.

An extra 150 Drinkaware staff have been announced to promote a positive atmosphere and help those who may be vulnerable after drinking too much.

Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s night-time economy adviser and Warehouse Project and Parklife co-founder, said: “Responsibility for the harms of alcohol is so often placed at the doors of pubs and clubs and many of our younger visitors. There is an increasing trend of many of our younger customers drinking more responsibly. The first step in this is talking with people. That’s why I’m backing the Big Alcohol Conversation and calling on my industry partners to support it too”.