Denton and Reddish MP, Andrew Gwynne, has this week joined over 1,700 community groups around the country to support Alcohol Awareness Week – more than double the number that took part last year.
While alcohol harm has long been an issue in the UK, there has been a new resurgence in the will to tackle the harm from community and grassroots groups, as the UK has seen increasing levels of harm from liver disease while other developed countries have seen declines. At the same time, alcohol treatment services in the UK have been subject to severe cuts, making the picture all the worse for the more than 80% of alcohol dependent people not currently receiving help. Specific data for your local area can be accessed here: https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/local-alcohol-profiles/data#page/0
Alcohol Awareness Week is spearheaded by the new national charity Alcohol Change UK, which launched this year, formed from the merger of Alcohol Concern and Alcohol Research UK. The charity also published a report outlining the current state of play for alcohol harm in the UK:
- In 2017, 20 people per day died as a result of their drinking, an increase of 11% since 2006.[i]
- Alcohol is the biggest risk factor for all early deaths among 15-49 year olds.
- There are around 600,000 alcohol dependent people in the UK. Less than 20% of these people are getting the support they need.[ii]
- Since 2016 two-thirds of local authorities in England have cut their funding for alcohol services, many by over 50%.[iii]
- There are around 200,000 children in England living with a dependent parent or carer, and this can have lifelong negative effects.[iv]
- In England alone, alcohol costs the NHS an estimated £3.5 billion every year.[v]
- In 2017 there were 337,000 hospital admissions caused primarily by alcohol, which is 17% higher than in 2006. The total number of hospital admissions for which alcohol is a contributory factor is closer to one million: or about 7% of all hospital admissions.[vi]
- In 2015 167,000 years of working life were lost as a result of alcohol. The total social cost of alcohol to society is estimated to be at least £21 billion each year.[vii]
- Alcohol is linked to over 50% of all violent crime (and a much higher proportion in the evening and at weekends).
Alcohol Awareness Week aims to get people thinking and talking about alcohol, to motivate change at every level – individual, community and national. And it’s working. With over 1,700 community groups taking part in the week, almost every community around the country, should have at least one event taking place.
Andrew Gwynne said:
“Alcohol Awareness Week is a chance for the UK to get thinking about drinking. It’s a week of awareness raising, campaigning for change, and more. This year, the theme is Change.
“It’s easy to think that alcohol harm is inevitable, it isn’t, which is why I hope this years awareness week serves as a reminder of the harm of excess alcohol consumption and what we can do as a community to negate the negative impact of alcohol on society.”
Dr Richard Piper, Chief Executive of Alcohol Change UK, said:
“The situation with alcohol in the UK looks, at first glance, bleak. In 2017 20 people died each day as a result of their drinking. It’s not only individuals who are harmed; whole families, including the 200,000 children living with alcohol dependent parents, feel the effects of heavy drinking. In fact our whole society is impacted through the increased pressures on the NHS and other services. Many of us feel that drinking is an expectation rather than a choice.
[i] Office for National Statistics (2017). Alcohol-specific deaths in the UK: registered in 2016.
[ii] Public Health England (2017). Adult substance misuse statistics from the NDTMS, April 2016 to March 2017.
[iii] Alcohol Research UK and Alcohol Concern (2018). The hardest hit: addressing the crisis in alcohol treatment services
[iv] Public Health England (2017). Estimates of alcohol dependent adults and alcohol dependent adults living with children.
[v] UK Parliament (2018). Alcoholic drinks – misuse: written question 170778
[vii] Public Health England (2016). Working years of life lost to alcohol: ad hoc statistical release; Office for National Statistics (2015). Violent crime and sexual offences – alcohol-related violence: findings from the 2013/14 Crime Survey for England and Wales; Public Health England (2016), Health matters: harmful drinking and alcohol dependence.