Many of us enjoy alcohol at times of celebration and when spending time with family and friends. In moderation this is not a problem, however alcohol consumption in the UK has increased significantly over the last two decades, as have related deaths and disease. Women’s alcohol use has increased and people are presenting with alcohol problems at a much younger age.
In January 2016 the UK Chief Medical Officers released new guidance on alcohol consumption for both men and women. The guidelines for both men and women state:
- You are safest not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week, to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level
- If you do drink as much as 14 units over week, it is best to spread this evenly over 3 days or more.
- If you have one or two heavy drinking sessions a week, you increase your risks of death from long term illnesses and from accidents and injuries.
- The risk of developing a range of illnesses (including, for example, cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases with any amount you drink on a regular basis.
- If you wish to cut down the amount you’re drinking, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week.
The Scottish Government has introduced a number of initiatives in recent years to support a change in behaviour around drinking alcohol in Scotland. These include the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing, changes to Licensing Policy and roll out of the Alcohol Brief Interventions (ABI) programme. Many staff within the Health and Social Care Partnership and our partners throughout Argyll & Bute have already started to deliver ABIs, however more work needs to be done in order to help reduce the impact alcohol is having on our population.
Alcohol Brief Interventions are a simple way of supporting people who are currently drinking a bit more than is healthy to reduce their alcohol intake. National guidance on ABIs can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/alcohol-brief-interventions-national-guidance/
Each ABI takes about 5-10 minutes and can be carried out by any trained member of staff. The training is easy and can be completed online. You can get free ABI online training via: http://tracking.brightwave.co.uk/lnt/ArgyllAndBute. Argyll and Bute Alcohol & Drug Partnership has also introduced a simple, interactive method to record and report delivery through the use of scratch cards.
Please contact the Alcohol & Drug Partnership Support Team for information on how to access this training, or for scratch cards and other resources: ADP Support Team on 01546 604948 or email us at HighUHB.ArgyllandButeADP@nhs.net.
You may also find that taking part in health behaviour change training can help you deliver Alcohol Brief Interventions. Information on the health behaviour change training provided by the Public Health team can be found here: http://healthyargyllandbute.co.uk/health-behaviour-change/