The average man in Hyndburn loses more than a year of his life as a result of drinking, new figures have shown.
A new report has ranked Hyndburn as one of the worst boroughs in the North West with men dying, on average, 13 months earlier than they should.
Health experts said levels of ill health, anti-social behaviour and premature deaths are ‘substantially higher’ in poorer communities. Andrea Stead, of the Inspire project in Accrington, which helps with alcohol misuse, said 400 people have accessed their structured treatment for alcohol in the past 12 months.
The shocking statistics contained in a study by Local Alcohol Profiles for England (LAPE) show that in Hyndburn men are more than twice as likely as women to suffer an alcohol-related death.
Hyndburn is the fourth worst borough in the region for alcohol-related transport deaths with 2.3 per 100,000 – more than double the regional average.
The area has a higher than average number of alcohol-specific hospital admissions for under 18s, men and women.
It is also the ninth worst in the region for women who die from chronic liver disease with 12.7 per 100,000 compared to the regional average of 11.1.
The damning report comes just weeks after the Observer revealed more than 150 people in Hyndburn die each year from smoking-related deaths – the second highest death rate in Lancashire.
Some 3,000 people in the borough are suffering from smoking-related illnesses according to NHS East Lancashire statistics – costing the NHS and local economy £5 million a year.
Mrs Stead said alcohol dependency and binge drinking are as prevalent in Hyndburn as other parts of the UK.
She said: "The months lost by men being twice as much as women could be down to a number of factors including lifestyle choice, the average amount of alcohol being consumed over a number of years, women being more likely to be the carer in the household therefore potentially less likely to develop alcohol addiction, and generally women live longer than men.
"In addition men’s responses and attitudes towards their own health and seeking help around health concerns has not always been as pro-active as women.
"This delay in seeking medical advice or approaching treatment services may mean that irreversible damage to the liver may have already occurred."
Mrs Stead said the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions has increased year-on-year since 2006 but alcohol-related death rates had fallen between 2007 and 2010.
Coun Pam Barton, who is portfolio holder for health and communities and is part of the Community Alcohol Network (CAN), said not enough people know about the health problems caused by alcohol.
She said: "Alcohol causes so many hospital admissions and a lot of anti-social behaviour and more needs to be done to educate people about the safe limits of drinking.
"Most people enjoy a drink but it’s about doing it in moderation. It’s when it goes too far that we get these kinds of figures. If you ask a lot of people what a unit of alcohol is they won’t know.
"We are so fortunate to have Inspire in Hyndburn where anybody can walk in for advice and help or to learn a bit more about alcohol."
Earlier this month the Observer revealed in a special report how almost 200 children were found on Hyndburn streets late at night during a police crackdown on under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour.
The shocking figures included two 14-year-old schoolgirls found drinking alcohol with a group of older men who were all camping in the woods.
Joyce Plummer, chairwoman of the Community Alcohol Network, said people drinking underage is a ‘big concern’ which can lead to health problems in later life.
She said: "I don’t think they realise what could happen to them. A lot aren’t drinking the mild stuff.
"People in their 20s are now being treated for serious liver problems through drinking and if you carry on drinking from a young age it can take a serious toll on your body."