Rising alcohol deaths reflect lockdown pressures on families
The announcement that a further 1,190 people in Scotland have died through alcohol-specific causes in 2020 reflects another year of heartbreak for families affected by alcohol harm.
Sadly, these figures come as little surprise to Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (Scottish Families), whose national helpline trends around alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic show an escalating picture of risk, harm and service failure.
Due to the pressures of the pandemic, Scottish Families’ overall helpline contacts increased by 66% from the previous year. However, this rose to an 84% increase from people concerned specifically about alcohol use.
Crackdown on cheap alcohol in Scotland could reduce disease and save lives
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) and Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) have co-launched a report with eight other leading health organisations in Scotland on tackling non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
NCDs, including liver disease and cancer, are the leading cause of death and disability in Scotland. Alcohol consumption is a leading, preventable cause of NCDs. The new report sets priority areas for action in the first year of this Scottish Parliament. The report recommends that the Scottish government: uprate the minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol to at least 65p per unit; consult on restricting the advertising and promotion of alcohol; and improve alcohol treatment so it meets people’s needs, ensuring it becomes a core service in COVID-19 recovery. SHAAP’s director, Elinor Jayne, also wrote a blog post on raising MUP to 65p for Reform Scotland.
Alcohol branding dominates Six Nations coverage
A blog on Cancer Research UK (CRUK) website details new research demonstrating the abundance of alcohol advertising at sporting events and its potential to increase underage drinking in young people. 122.4 billion Guinness-related branded impressions were delivered to the UK population who watched the 2019 Six Nations coverage. Alarmingly, 758 million of those ads were delivered to children under 16. CRUK makes the case for governments across the UK to introduce comprehensive restrictions on alcohol ads across multiple media platforms, including restrictions on sponsorships & activities targeting young people – to reduce people’s exposure to alcohol marketing.
Alcohol Action Ireland released its annual price survey
Alcohol Action Ireland’s annual pricing survey has revealed that alcohol remains incredibly cheap in Ireland. Irish men can drink weekly low-risk guideline limit for as little as €7.65; women €4.95.
The findings confirm the exceptional affordability of alcohol to every day shoppers and reaffirms the necessity for the commencement of minimum pricing of alcohol products (January 2022) that will ensure the strongest, cheapest alcohol is eliminated from the market.
Alcohol and self-harm: a qualitive study
Alcohol Change UK has recently published the results of the research by Amy Chandler from the University of Edinburgh and Annie Taylor at Edinburgh Napier University, into the interface between drinking and self-harm.
Their report is based on interviews with eleven adults who have experience of both self-harm and alcohol use, and provides an in-depth picture of this complex topic. The aim of the report is to spark conversations within alcohol services and self-harm services (and between the two sectors) about how to improve the support for people facing these two challenges in life. You can download the report, and there is also short blog summarising the findings and their implications.
Call for research papers for Share Shrewsbury conference
Calling all researchers – make a difference by sharing your alcohol research!
Share Shrewsbury is holding its inaugural virtual conference, ‘Alcohol – Sharing The Trust’ on 18-19 November. Speakers will include Dr Ed Day, the National Recovery Champion, Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London and the TV presenter, Adrian Chiles.
Share Shrewsbury are expecting an international audience and are inviting researchers and professionals to submit their alcohol addiction research, or examples of good practice, for to feature at the conference.
Submissions can include research papers, posters or recorded video presentations. Awards will be given for outstanding submissions in each category.
Exploring the barriers to engaging with our behaviour change campaigns
Alcohol Change UK are delighted to announce that they have a new Invitation to Tender open for a research project that will help us to better understand the barriers people face to taking up Dry January and, more broadly, when trying to make positive changes to their drinking, and how such barriers might be overcome. The deadline is 11 October.
Job opportunity: Interim Chief Executive (IAS)
The Institute of Alcohol Studies is looking to appoint an Interim Chief Executive to lead their high-performing team while their CEO is on maternity leave. This is an exciting opportunity to lead a well-respected charity working on a high profile social and political issue affecting thousands of lives across the UK and worldwide.
Alcohol Change UK’s 2021 online conference: rebuild and recover
Alcohol Change UK
22–23 September 2021
Training course: How the PRIDDY toolkit can help
29 September, 1 November, 1 December
Healthier and fairer futures: Building a Pro-Health Economy
Webinar: ‘Alcohol marketing during the 2020 Six Nations Championship’
Institute of Alcohol Studies, Alcohol Addiction Ireland, SHAAP
2pm, 30 September
MCA Symposium – Alcohol and health: interventions and recovery
Medical Council on Alcohol
Alcohol Evidence in Policy and Practice workshop
28 November – 1 December
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 Mark Holmes, assistant director at Humankind and head of innovation and DrinkCoach. Mark has worked for Humankind for two years.
How does your organisation help to reduce alcohol harm?
Humankind are very keen on having a complete pathway to support people. That ranges from early intervention via Identification and Brief Advice, Extended Brief Interventions (in room or via online at DrinkCoach), structured treatment and working with those that require an assertive outreach approach. Humankind are currently completing an alcohol pathway needs and strengths analysis to improve our alcohol interventions offer.
What inspires you most in your job?
In my 25 years working in the sector I have met some brilliant people; including some inspirational colleagues but it has to be those people that have been written off by ‘the treatment system’ that inspire me. I have lived experience of alcohol problems and we are too quick to dismiss people as ‘unmotivated’ or ‘in denial’. Life isn’t as simple as that. There is always hope and something we can do including harm minimisation.
What change do you think would make the biggest difference in reducing alcohol harm?
Can I only have one?! Minimum unit pricing, full lists of ingredients on alcohol bottles and an increase in funding that goes to support treatment. Plus more assertive outreach for those that have complex needs, mental health services to work better together with drug and alcohol treatment services. Of course I have more!