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Back to the future: understanding and responding to alcohol use in Liverpool

Martin Whiteford, Paula Byrne


Popular narratives have variously depicted Liverpool as a city of decline, protest, revival and hedonism. From being the ‘Detroit of England’ to the ‘alcohol capital of England’, Liverpool is seen to spatially and discursively embody a ‘place of chronicity’. In this paper, we explore the way in which place matters to health in order to critically interrogate why it is that Liverpool has consistently recorded the highest level of alcohol-related hospital admissions in England. To this end, we draw on qualitative interviews with health and social care practitioners working with people with complex alcohol needs. The interviews provide an important insight into the practical and policy realities of alcohol misuse in Liverpool. We further suggest that local responses to alcohol consumption and addiction are explicitly tied to both an imperative to overturn the city’s negative reputation and self-image and a commitment to improving the health and well-being of high impact users.


DOI 10.3351/ppp.0006.0003.0001