AHA Bulletin – September 2020

The portrayal of addiction in the media only increases stigma, says new report

A new research project from Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs and the Scottish Recovery Consortium has found that the use of stigmatising language and pictures in media reports has a negative impact on those wishing to share their stories. Both charities shared concerns around the stigma towards people with addictions, and the lack of lived/living experience highlighted in the media.

The charities have created an in-depth report and have provided six recommendations to journalists and editors on best practice for reporting on addiction and recovery. They also recorded four podcasts with family members, people in recovery and journalists to discuss their experiences of the media’s portrayal of addiction and recovery.

Read the report

Drinking in the dark: how alcohol labelling fails consumers

The AHA and Alcohol Change UK have recently published the report Drinking in the dark, which found that more than 70% of alcohol labels in shops across the UK did not include the weekly low-risk drinking guidelines. Nearly a quarter of labels carried misleading or out-of-date health information, such as the old UK drinking guidelines or drinking guidelines from other countries. The government recently announced its intention to consult on nutritional labels on alcohol products – this report identified that more than half (56%) lack any nutritional information and just 7% displayed full nutritional information, including calories.

The work calls for an independent agency working in the interests of public health and consumer rights to enforce what information must appear on alcohol labels. The content and design of these requirements should be evidence-based.

Read the report

‘Pocket money’ affordability for alcohol in Ireland

Alcohol Action Ireland, the independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, has published its annual off-trade alcohol market review and price survey. It again confirms the exceptional affordability of alcohol to everyday shoppers and the urgent necessity to commence minimum pricing of alcohol products that will ensure the strongest, cheapest alcohol at very low cost is eliminated from the market.

Read the report

Alcohol sales jump almost 40% in 30 years

A lot has changed in 30 years; fashion, culture, sport, music, but also what we know about diet and the risk of developing cancer. As part of World Cancer Research Fund’s 30th birthday, the charity looked back at data collected annually on weekly food purchasing to see how diets have changed. One of the worrying findings was that alcohol purchasing has increased by 38% from 1992 to 2018; drinking alcohol is strongly linked to seven different types of cancer, including breast cancer.

Reports on the SHAAP and SARN Alcohol Occasional seminar series published

SHAAP have published four reports from the recently concluded SHAAP and Scottish Alcohol Research Network (SARN) Alcohol Occasional seminar series. The reports cover presentations on: alcohol use on the Isle of Arran, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), minimum unit pricing (MUP), children and young people, and problematic substance use in later life.

Read the reports

IAS Small Grants Scheme awards announced

IAS is delighted to announce that they will be funding three projects led by early career researchers in the alcohol field through the new IAS Small Grants Scheme. The call was announced at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. We were impressed to receive 24 applications, highlighting the resilience of the alcohol research community, and the need for funding opportunities such as this one. IAS will be funding the following projects in the coming months:

  • Dr Elena Dimova, Glasgow Caledonian University: Exploring men’s alcohol consumption in the context of becoming a father: A scoping review
  • Jessica Muirhead, Wrexham Glyndŵr University: Effective online age gating using MCC codes
  • Dr Emily Nicholls, University of Portsmouth: Rewriting the rules or playing the game? An investigation into the ways in which social norms around gender & drinking are challenged &/or reinforced through the promotion, marketing & consumption of Alcohol-Free drinks

Dr Sadie Boniface, Head of Research at IAS, said:
“This is a brand new scheme for IAS, and it was brilliant to see the diversity of ideas and research designs. The projects we are funding through the Small Grants Scheme address important gaps in the evidence base and, we hope, will provide a springboard for the early career researchers we are supporting.”

Dr Gillian Shorter, Chair of the IAS Small Grants Scheme Research Review Committee and Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at Queens University Belfast,said: “The reviewers and I were impressed by the quality and breadth of proposals, all of which had the potential to influence alcohol policy. I am delighted with our three award holders. Their strong applications had clear plans to impact on availability, marketing, and social and environmental impacts of alcohol and I look forward to their findings in due course.”

Podcast: Alcohol, older people, and policy over the last 20 years

Older people now form an increasing larger population at risk of alcohol related harm. Over the past 20 years. there have been major changes in policy for older people with alcohol misuse. In this podcast, Tony Rao, a consultant old age psychiatrist and Visiting Research Fellow, outlines these changes.

SHAAP and IAS report Men and Alcohol: Key Issues launched

SHAAP and IAS launched their report Men and Alcohol: Key Issues on 9 September. The report highlights how alcohol consumption is closely connected to male identity, and that alcohol-related harms, both mental and physical, reman a significant issue for men in the UK. The report puts forward key recommendations for how policy and practice in order to address these issues.

Read the report

Podcast: The Alcohol File: what is alcohol doing to our children?

Alcohol Action Ireland released its latest episode in its new podcast series ‘The Alcohol File’.   In this episode of ‘The Alcohol File’ – What is alcohol doing to our children? – we explore a number of issues relating to alcohol and children in Ireland.

Understanding alcohol in the pandemic: a blog from SHAAP Steering Group’s Chair

SHAAP has recently published a blog by their Steering Group Chair, Dr Peter Rice, on alcohol sales and consumption during lockdown, as part of our new blog series. Read this blog, as well as their blog on sobriety tagging in Scotland, here.


“Rural Matters” Report Launch

23 September 2-4pm, BST

SHAAP is excited to be launching our “Rural Matters” report. This important report is the culmination of five community consultations and 25 qualitative interviews with healthcare professionals, service providers, recovery community members and fellowship members working and living in rural and remote areas of Scotland. You can register below for the free, online launch event.

Register now

Working with the whole personalcohol, mental health and complex needs 

Alcohol Change UK’s first online interactive conference
Wednesday 2 December and Thursday 3 December 2020

Alcohol misuse is often just one symptom of the complex challenges in someone’s life. Alcohol Change UK have gathered together a multidisciplinary slate of academics, practitioners, and people with lived experience, to help us all work better to support the whole person. Find out more and book places below.

More information and registration