Experts highlight three key ages where alcohol is more likely to damage the brain
Researchers have pin-pointed three key time periods in life when the harmful effects of alcohol on the brain are likely to be at their greatest.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, researchers in Australia and the UK suggest there are three periods of brain changes that may be particularly sensitive to the effects of alcohol. These are: gestation (from conception to birth), later adolescence (15–19 years), and older adulthood (over 65 years).
The experts suggest that population-based interventions, such as guidelines on low-risk drinking, alcohol pricing policies, and lower drink driving limits will help tackle this issue. They also suggest that these policies should be accompanied by the development of training and care pathways that consider the human brain at risk throughout life.
Nudge theory and alcohol policy – how nudge frames drinkers and industry
The latest report from the Institute of Alcohol Studies examines the ways in which the One You campaign, and low alcohol product health initiatives use nudge theory’s principles to frame individuals and alcohol industry actors.
It found that nudge interventions have been a significant feature of UK government public health alcohol policy since 2017, supporting calls for well-evidenced public health alcohol policy action, such as pricing, availability and market controls. Within policy, the public are framed as blameworthy for their own alcohol problems. This should be concerning for policymakers, as this may reinforce pre-existing stigma associated with alcohol use problems, entrenching barriers to support and reducing individuals’ capability, opportunity, or motivation to change. In contrast, the alcohol industry is often framed as reliable and trustworthy, which risks ignoring the economic and societal drivers of public health problems.
Access the presentations from the launch seminar
Scaling down the size of bottles could reduce drinking
According to a trial conducted by the SMMGP & FDAP, which measured the difference in alcohol consumption when drinking from different sized bottles, downsizing bottles could reduce drinking. As drinking wine is so often a social activity, there is a tendency to finish an open bottle. This experimental evidence suggests that switching to 50cl bottles (from the current standard 75cl) could make a significant difference. These small differences could really add up to reduce alcohol consumption across the whole country.
Tackling the underrepresentation of BAME communities in treatment services
The All-Party Parliamentary Group of The Treatment of Addiction in the UK recently highlighted that 92% of all people in treatment for addiction are recorded as white. In a blog for the AHA, Sohan Sahota, managing director of the drug and alcohol recovery support service BAC-IN, explores barriers for those from black and Asian backgrounds who are seeking support for alcohol addiction – and how treatment services can better support people from minority or marginalised groups.
UK asylum can contribute to harmful drinking, study shows
A report by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems found that asylum seeker experiences’ can contribute to harmful drinking.
The report shows how asylum seekers who experience harmful alcohol use in the UK do not arrive with these issues, but rather develop them as a result of destitution, or being placed under a condition of ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF). It finds that the prohibition of work while people wait for their asylum claim to be determined contributes to mental ill-health, while long waiting times, isolation, boredom and poverty contribute to harmful drinking. The report makes recommendations for policy and practice.
Read the report here
SHAAP launch manifesto for 2021 Scottish parliament election
SHAAP recently launched their manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament Election. The manifesto includes calls for total restrictions on alcohol advertising, marketing and sponsorship, and the removal of alcohol from supermarket shelves, and well covered by the Scottish media.
I’ve spent most of my life not talking about my dad’s drinking.’ – new blog from SFAD
Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs published a blog by one of their media volunteers Beverly, who shares her experience of growing up around addiction in response to the Commission on Alcohol Harm’s report.
Beverley said: “I’ve spent most of my life not talking about my dad’s drinking. At school I never mentioned it to friends or teachers, worried they would judge me… I kept that part of my childhood a secret. It wasn’t until I heard a friend at work talking openly about his mum’s mental health issues that I realised I could share my story without judgement.”
Tackling drug dependency and abuse in the UK: working in partnership to reduce crime, minimise harm and support rehabilitation
Public Policy Exchange webinar
7 January 2021, online
More information and registration
Managing drug & alcohol problems in primary care conference 2021
RCGP & SMMGP
25 and 26 March 2021, online