Southampton highlights the risks of drinking too much for Alcohol Awareness Week 2019

University Hospital Southampton and No Limits offer helpful advice

This week Southampton City Council, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and No Limits join 2,000 other community groups to highlight the impact that alcohol can have on our bodies, our lives and those we love, by making changes to our drinking behaviour so we can become healthier and reduce our risk for many serious health conditions including cancer, mental health problems, and liver disease.

Events are being run by local authorities, workplaces, charities, GP surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals and other groups. Southampton will be part of the UK-wide campaign too.

Southampton General Hospital will be running two public engagement events in the main entrance on Monday and Tuesday, 11-12 November, regarding safe amounts of alcohol units per week, how alcohol can affect your body and its long term health effects.

No Limits held an information stand at their Advice Centre (13 High Street, Southampton, SO14 2DF) on Monday 11 November, with their DASH team raising awareness about the effects of alcohol and providing top tips on how to help reduce drinking. The team used an educational pack recently donated by the Alcohol Education Trust.

Understanding the risks of drinking too much is an important first step in helping us drink more healthily. Yet estimates show that 84% of people are unaware of the official low-risk drinking guidelines, meaning that the vast majority do not have the information they need to make informed choices about their drinking.

In Southampton, hospital admissions for alcohol-related condition were significantly higher (719 per 100,000) in 2017/18 than either the regional (515) or England average (632), according to Public Health England.

The national picture on alcohol-related harm shows:

  • Each year, alcohol is a factor in the deaths of 24,000 people in the UK and is the biggest risk factor for deaths among 15-49 year olds
  • Hospital admissions due to alcoholic liver disease in England have increased by 43% in the last 10 years
  • In England there are an estimated 589,101 dependent drinkers and less than 20% are receiving treatment
  • Around 200,000 children in England are living with an alcohol-dependent parent or carer which can have lifelong negative effects on their health and wellbeing
  • Each year alcohol misuse is estimated to cost the NHS £3.5 billion, and an estimated 167,000 years of working life are lost as a result of alcohol

Alcohol Awareness Week aims to get people thinking and talking about alcohol, to motivate change at every level – individual, community and national.

Councillor David Shields, Cabinet Member for Healthier and Safer Communities, Southampton City Council, said: "Alcohol Awareness Week is another opportunity for us to re-examine our relationship with alcohol, to consider how much and how often we drink. In addition to the long-term, negative health effects that mis-use of alcohol has on your body, each year Southampton's A&E services are unfairly burdened by those who do not drink responsibly. I encourage everyone to visit the Alcohol Change or NHS One You websites to learn the facts about alcohol and your health, and if you are particularly concerned about your dependence on alcohol, to discuss this with your GP."

Dr Julia Sinclair, Professor of Addiction Psychiatry at the University of Southampton said: "As clinical lead for the alcohol team at University Hospital Southampton, I can tell you from professional experience, that what many of us regard as regular casual alcohol use can creep up on us over the years until we have to ask ourselves if we are starting to rely upon it a bit too much. This reliance affects one's mood, sleep, energy levels and overall health. Alcohol Awareness Week is a good time for each of us to take a step back and ask ourselves how alcohol affects our daily lives."

Dr Richard Piper, Chief Executive of Alcohol Change UK, said: "It can be easy to slip into bad habits with our drinking. But small changes can make a big difference to our health.

"Alcohol harm is avoidable and yet it still remains a factor in the death of three people every hour. This has to change. As well as the harm caused to individuals, alcohol can also have a significant adverse effect on those around us, including the 200,000 children in England who are living with an alcohol-dependent parent.

"So this year's Alcohol Awareness Week is all about helping people to better understand the risks of drinking and providing advice on how we can change our drinking behaviour for the better. This can be as simple as being sure to have a few drink-free days each week, deliberately choosing the lowest strength drinks, making every other drink a non-alcoholic one, or downloading an app, for example Try Dry, to track your drinking and keep you motivated."

Take part in this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week by visiting the Alcohol Change UK website to:

  • Test your knowledge on all things alcohol with the alcohol quiz
  • Explore the interactive body map to see how alcohol affects our bodies
  • Take a closer look at the drinking guidelines to better understand how much is too much
  • Get top tips on ways to cut down
  • Find extra support if you need it

If you are concerned about your drinking, you can also speak with your GP or contact our Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service.