One too many

The risks of drinking too much alcohol are to be highlighted in a series of events across Bath and North East Somerset as part of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week, 11-17 November.

Alcohol Awareness Week, which is led by Alcohol Change UK, aims to get people thinking and talking about alcohol, to motivate change at every level – individually, in the local community and nationally.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is joining more than 2,000 organisations across the country to raise awareness of the impact that alcohol can have on our bodies, lives and those we love and how making changes to drinking behaviour can improve our health and reduce our risk from many serious health conditions including cancer, mental health problems and liver disease.

Officers from the council’s Public Health team and local alcohol treatment services will be offering advice and information across the district:

  • Keynsham, outside the Civic Centre – Wednesday 13 November 12-2pm
  • Radstock, outside the Co-op – Thursday 14 November 12-2pm
  • Bath, Green Park Station – Friday 15 November 12-2pm

Information stands will also be located at the RUH, St Martins Hospital, Bath Central Library and at DHI drug and alcohol treatment services in Midsomer Norton and Bath. Further advice and information is available at GP surgeries and pharmacies

In Bath and North East Somerset adult alcohol treatment services are provided by DHI (Developing Health & Independence). Service user Toby said: “I was a trauma surgeon for many years, dealing with some of the most complex cases. However, I started to suffer from severe depression and I turned to alcohol, which caught me in a downward spiral. I decided that it was time to turn my life around and I started to engage with DHI.

“During a one to one session I suffered a gastrointestinal bleed and was rushed to hospital where I underwent an alcohol detox from the ward. Having detoxed, I needed the support of a dry house to keep me from relapsing and that is what DHI’s Burlington House project provided me with.

“I’ve now been abstinent for one year and I use my experience to help other people as a peer mentor and by running a music group at DHI’s treatment centre. Thanks to the support I received and the effort I put in, I am now in a position to be looking at a return to medicine.”

The national picture on alcohol-related harm shows:

  • Alcohol is a factor in the deaths of 24,000 people in the UK[i] each year and is the biggest risk factor for deaths among 15-49 year olds[ii].
  • Hospital admissions due to alcoholic liver disease in England have increased by 43% in the last 10 years[iii].
  • In England there are an estimated 589,101 dependent drinkers and less than 20% are receiving treatment.[iv]
  • Around 200,000 children in England are living with an alcohol-dependent parent or carer which can have lifelong negative effects on their health and wellbeing.[v]
  • Each year alcohol misuse is estimated to cost the NHS £3.5 billion[vi], and an estimated 167,000 years of working life are lost as a result of alcohol.[vii]

Understanding the risks of drinking too much is an important first step in helping people to drink more healthily, yet it’s estimated that 84% are unaware of the official low-risk drinking guidelines[viii] and therefore don’t have the information they need to make informed choices about their drinking.

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Cllr Rob Appleyard

Councillor Rob Appleyard, cabinet member for Adult Services, said: “Tackling the impact of harmful or dependent drinking is one of our key public health priorities. Excessive drinking can not only affect relationships with family or friends but also on an individual’s ability to work and provide for themselves or their dependants.

“It’s very easy to slip into bad drinking habits and so providing the right information to enable people to make an informed choice about their drinking is essential. Small changes can really make a big difference to our health.”

Dr Richard Piper, Chief Executive of Alcohol Change UK, said: “Alcohol harm is avoidable and yet it still remains a factor in the death of three people every hour. This has to change. As well as the harm caused to individuals, alcohol can also have a significant adverse effect on those around us, including the 200,000 children in England who are living with an alcohol-dependent parent.

“So this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week is all about helping people to better understand the risks of drinking and providing advice on how we can change our drinking behaviour for the better. This can be as simple as being sure to have a few drink-free days each week, deliberately choosing the lowest strength drinks, making every other drink a non-alcoholic one, or downloading an app, for example Try Dry, to track your drinking and keep you motivated.”

To find out more about Alcohol Awareness Week visit: www.alcoholchange.org.uk/alcoholawarenessweek

The website enables users to:

  • Test their knowledge via the alcohol quiz
  • Explore an interactive body map to see how alcohol affects it
  • Take a closer look at the drinking guidelines to better understand how much is too much
  • Get top tips on ways to cut down
  • Find extra support

For more information about Alcohol Awareness Week events in Bath and North East Somerset search the hashtag #AlcoholAwarenessWeek or contact Owen Wood: owen_wood@BATHNES.gov.uk or call 01225 394293