ALCOHOL lands more than 1000 people in the northern region in hospital each year, and the problem has grown during the past decade.
Figures from Health Statistics NSW show 1092 people had to be hospitalised as a result of alcohol during 2009-10 to 2010-11.
The problem is at its worst in the Moree area, which recorded the highest rate of people hospitalised with alcohol-related sickness or injury.
One hundred and twenty people in the Moree Plains local government area were admitted to hospital because of alcohol.
In Narrabri the rate of alcohol-attributable hospitalisations was also significantly above the state average.
Liverpool Plains recorded the lowest rate of hospitalisations, which was notably below the state average.
In Tamworth, 302 people were admitted to hospital because of alcohol, but the number of hospitalisations relative to population remained significantly less that of the state.
There has been a spike in the rate of such hospitalisations across the region since 1998-99 to 1999-2000.
The most dramatic rise was at Guyra, although Inverell and Moree also saw significant increases.
The rate of alcohol-attributable hospitalisations in Guyra grew from 500.7 per 100,000 people, to 673.2 per 100,000 people.
Just four areas – Armidale, Tenterfield, Liverpool Plains and Gwydir – saw drops in hospitalisation rates, of which Armidale had the most pronounced improvement.
Centacare New England North West principal psychologist Josefina Hofman believes alcohol misuse is a significant issue in the region, particularly because of the rural and sometimes remote locations of communities.
She said being far from the city, some people turned to alcohol as a form of entertainment and subsequently misused it.
Emergency department presentations for acute alcohol problems also grew across NSW between 1997 and 2011.
More people aged 18 to 24 present to emergency departments with an acute alcohol problem than any other age group, with the rate of young people attending the emergency department for this reason rising from 119 per 100,000 people in 1997, to 311 per 100,000 people in 2011.
More young men visit the emergency department because of alcohol than young women, but between 1997 and 2011 the rate of young women presenting with acute alcohol problems grew faster.