Alcohol leads to pain

NEARLY 260 people needed an ambulance across the south-west last year because of alcohol-related injuries, new figures show. 

Data from the Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre between 2012-2013 shows alcohol remains the biggest headache for ambulance crews, with booze-related call-outs easily surpassing other drugs and substances. 

In Warrnambool, 125 people were seen by paramedics in alcohol-related attendances — an increase on 87 cases the previous financial year. 

The latest figure puts Warrnambool second highest for alcohol-related injuries in regional Victoria,  based on population size. In the Glenelg Shire 48 people were treated, with 33 in Corangamite, 32 in Southern Grampians and 21 in Moyne Shire. 

Other figures for the Warrnambool area show: 

- 10 ambulance call-outs for cases of opioid analgesics; 

- 17 cannabis-related attendances; 

- 16 benzodiazepine-related attendances (substances such as valium); and

- six crystal methamphetamine-related attendances.

Warrnambool Base Hospital’s emergency department is more often the final destination after a night out goes wrong. 

“Every type of accident is more likely to happen if people have been drinking,” South West Healthcare emergency physician Dr Tim Baker said. 

“It’s our number one problem. Most alcohol admissions are trauma but sometimes we get people who are so intoxicated they have trouble protecting their airways — people vomiting.” 

Dr Baker said proactive work by the region’s drug and alcohol agencies had helped limit the damage being inflicted by crystal methamphetamine, or ice. 

“We’ve been very lucky to stop it being a significant problem here,” he said. 

The Turning Point report shows a 198 per cent increase in ice-related call-outs in regional Victoria with 231 call-outs in 2012-13, compared with 77 in 2011-12.

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