Irish government implements minimum unit pricing
Ireland is following in Scotland’s footsteps and introducing minimum unit pricing (MUP) in January 2022. The commencement of MUP as a public health measure will make a significant contribution to the public policy objective of reducing alcohol harm in Ireland, and lowering alcohol use to a 2013 target of 9.1 litres per capita.
Read Alcohol Action Ireland’s response
Rise in drinking-related referrals of older people to mental health services in lockdown
Lockdown has led to an increase in alcohol addiction among the baby-boomer generation, new research suggests.
The study, published in the Journal of Substance Use this month by Dr Tony Rao and colleagues at King’s College London, found that more of those aged 55–74 are now drinking at levels indicative of probable alcohol dependence.
The percentage of referrals for people drinking at levels of probable dependence at least once a week rose from 19 to 29, together with significant rises in the proportion drinking at least four times a week, and those drinking in the morning.
Alcohol adverts may commonly appeal to underage adolescents, according to new study
A new study published in Alcohol and Alcoholism reports that alcohol marketing appeals positively to underage adolescents, following a survey of 2,500 11–17 year olds.
The research, published by the Institute of Alcohol Studies, makes the case for stronger regulation of alcohol marketing, with half of those surveyed reacting positively to Fosters and Smirnoff brands. Those with positive reactions were also one and a half times more likely to report being susceptible to drinking in the following year.
SHAAP and Alcohol Focus Scotland call for rise in MUP
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) and Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) have called for the minimum unit price (MUP) of alcohol in Scotland to be increased from 50p to at least 65p per unit. Resetting the MUP level to 65p per unit would take account of inflation and allow a modest uplift to increase MUP’s health benefits, the charities say.
The price of food may influence decisions to buy alcohol
A new study by Cardiff University has found that as the price of food increases, people consume less alcohol.
Researchers found that a 1% increasing in food price led to a 1% decrease in alcohol consumption. The results indicated a need to understand the relationship between food price and alcohol consumption more closely, especially when considering minimum unit pricing. Following the evidence shown, researched suggested that separating the sale of food and alcohol to different shops would reduce alcohol harm, as seen in Scandinavia.
UK midwives’ awareness of the alcohol guidelines remains low, study suggests
Research findings from the IAS survey of midwives in 2019 were published in the peer reviewed journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth on 17 February 2021. The article, titled ‘Barriers and enablers of implementation of alcohol guidelines with pregnant women’ found that that the vast majority of midwives would always (90%) or usually (7%) advise women to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy at the booking appointment, whilst just over a third (38%) did so at subsequent antenatal appointments. The authors suggest that midwife advice about the low-risk alcohol guidelines for pregnant women beyond the initial booking appointment can lead to improved outcomes for women and infants.
A second report, based on qualitative data from the same project, was published online in the peer reviewed journal Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare on 1 May 2021. This article, titled ‘Midwives’ views on alcohol guidelines: A qualitative study of barriers and facilitators to implementation in UK antenatal care’ reported that UK midwives’ awareness of the Guidelines was low and that other clinical guidelines are used by default in practice, resulting in a varied approaches to discussing alcohol with pregnant women across the UK.
Balance North East’s “What the Harm” campaign
Balance has launched the next phase of its “What’s the Harm?” campaign and information platform for parents.
“What’s the Harm?” is aimed at raising awareness among parents of the Chief Medical Officer’s Guidance on the Consumption of Alcohol by Children and Young People – that no alcohol before 18 is the safest and best option but if they do drink it should not be before 15.
Most alcohol consumed by children comes from the family home and the campaign highlights the risks of regular drinking under age. These risks include: physical and mental health problems; impaired development, performance at school and college; greater risk of accidents and risky behaviour such as illegal drugs, tobacco and under- age, unprotected sex; and making children more likely to become heavier drinkers as adults.
Balance is encouraging parents to visit the website WhatstheHarm.co.uk to discover the facts, risks, myths and to download a free Parents Guide. The campaign will also bring forward advice from treatment providers and schools. Balance will also be featuring new expert blogs around children and marketing.
The campaign also ties in with retail point of sale materials for local authority partners to help work with local shops to support age of sale laws around alcohol.
In the media: British Liver Trust on the rise in alcohol-related deaths in the UK
The British Liver trust spoke to ITV about the rise in alcohol-related deaths in the last year, in the context of many people drinking more alcohol since the first lockdown began in March 2020. The trust has seen an increase of the number of calls to their Helpline. They spoke about the connection between alcohol and liver disease and what the Trust is calling on the government to do.
Support for prisoners during the pandemic has received recognition
The EDP’s Integrated Substance Misuse Team were presented with the High sheriff of Dorset’s Award in recognition of the invaluable support that was given to prisoners during the Coronavirus pandemic.
New episode of the Alcohol Shorts Podcast, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs
SFAD’s final episode of the Alcohol Shorts Podcast is now public, speaking to Megan McGarrigle. Megan McGarrigle is Alcohol Focus Scotland’s Youth Engagement Officer. Megan focuses on developing work around an alcohol-free childhood through engaging with children and young people across the country. She works with children, young people and the organisations who support them to ensure that their voices are heard and valued in order to gain a greater understanding of the impact alcohol has for young people.
Alcohol Occasionals – Managed alcohol programmes (MAPs)
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems
1 June 2021
Find out more here
Alcohol Occasionals – Greenspace programmes for problem substance use
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems
15 June 2021
Find out more here
Alcohol Change UK’s 2021 online conference: Rebuild and Recover
Alcohol Change UK
22-23 September 2021
Find out more and book a place here