New insights from experience on alcohol and suicide
In England, nearly half of all patients under the care of mental health services who die by suicide have a history of alcohol use, and those who are dependent on alcohol are approximately 2.5 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. While this close relationship between alcohol, suicide, and self-harm is well documented, people’s direct lived experiences are often underreported in the literature.
The Suicide Prevention Consortium have published a report to address this gap and to shine a light on what changes are needed in healthcare services to better support people and prevent suicide.
The team surveyed 125 people with personal experience of suicide, self-harm, or service use, and 33 practitioners supporting people around alcohol use, mental health and/or suicide. Key findings included inconsistencies in accessing care for co-occurring needs around alcohol and mental health, alcohol featuring as a coping mechanism for other issues, and the direct influence of alcohol on suicide attempts.
Minimum unit pricing study finds cross-border alcohol buying is minimal
When minimum unit pricing (MUP) was introduced in Scotland in May 2018, there were concerns that the policy may lead to an increase in bulk buying across the border in England. However, a recent evaluation by Public Health Scotland has found minimal evidence of cross-border purchasing, with only 3% of those surveyed having travelled to another part of the UK solely to buy alcohol. Furthermore, this tended to reflect established shopping habits, and was unlikely to be happening on a scale that would significantly affect consumption at a population level and the public health impact of MUP.
This is a critical aspect of the MUP evaluation portfolio that will investigate effects across implementation and compliance, the alcoholic drinks industry, alcohol consumption, and health and social harms.
AFS and SHAAP at the Scottish inquiry into health inequalities
Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, and SHAAP Director Elinor Jayne have given evidence to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee inquiry into health inequalities regarding tackling alcohol harms in Scotland. The aim of the inquiry is to explore progress towards tackling health inequalities in Scotland since 2015, exploring the impact of the pandemic, and consider opportunities to increase preventative work to improve social inequalities before they impact on individuals’ health.
The session covered: alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic; the disproportionate rates of alcohol harm in rural communities; affordability, availability and labelling as key preventative measures; ending sports sponsorship; and changes to treatment and recovery services.
You can watch a recording of the session online.
Four nations, 15 years: Alcohol policy in Wales
We have published the first blog in our four-part series marking 15 years of the Alcohol Health Alliance. In this post, Andrew Misell of Alcohol Change UK examines how alcohol policy has changed in Wales since 2007. Andrew highlights how the Welsh strategy to tackle alcohol problems is unified in a substance use approach that prioritises harm reduction and provides an overview of the introduction of MUP in 2020.
New podcast episode from Changing Lives
Changing Lives have a new episode of their Recovery Talks podcast, where people get together to share their thoughts, ideas, and stories of recovery and what this means to them. In the latest edition, Rosie Lewis (former Deputy Director of the Angelou Centre) discusses her long career in activism and advocacy and the importance of tailormade recovery services for women and children.
You can listen on Apple, Spotify, or Anchor.
What are LGBTQ+ people’s experiences of alcohol services in Scotland? A qualitative study of service users and service providers
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems
23 March, 2-3PM
Managing drugs and alcohol problems in primary care conference
Royal College of General Practitioners and Addiction Professionals
MUP: Experiences of homeless/street drinkers and service providers
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems
31 March, 12.30PM-2PM
Alcohol: Sharing the truth
Meet the Members
Every month, we speak to a member of the AHA to find out more about what they do and how their organisation is working to end alcohol harm.
Today we meet Dr. Sadie Boniface, Head of Research at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, and Visiting Researcher at King’s College London.
How does your organisation help to reduce alcohol harm?
The purpose of the Institute of Alcohol Studies is to advance the use of evidence in public policy decisions on alcohol. I lead the delivery of our research strategy and run our Small Grants Scheme for early career researchers. We share our research widely, and it is used by my policy and advocacy colleagues as evidence of the risks of alcohol and ways to reduce harm.
What inspires you most in your job?
Definitely the people. I have been lucky to work with excellent students who join us for projects and placements. I have also always enjoyed opportunities to interact with members of the public, especially where their views are under-served in decision making, for example children and young people or people with lived experience. In my PhD I spent months standing outside a branch of Tesco for my fieldwork, I like learning what people think!
What change do you think would make the biggest difference in reducing alcohol harm?
One opportunity to reduce harm from alcohol is through the ongoing duty review, because the evidence is strong that prices are a big factor in how much people drink. If rates of alcohol duty were related to drink strength, were set at the right level, and increased every year to account for inflation, that could reduce a range of harms from alcohol. That said, our work is wide-ranging – from delaying young people’s drinking onset, preventing crime, narrowing inequalities – and there are several areas where action is needed.