Alcohol Awareness Week

Posted on: 11 November 2016

Alcohol Awareness Week is kicking off in Devon on November 13 with an LGBT event at Exeter City Football Club.

Organised by Drink Wise, Age Well and LGBT 3, the ARM in ARM event is aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  Special guest speakers include Sahar Mediha Al-Naas from Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council and Carol Steele from Transfigurations.

There will be live music from ARBOR and Tina Bridgman and a workshop all about making mocktails as well as a variety of stalls from 11am until 3pm. People will also be encouraged to use the smoothie bike to peddle their own healthy drinks.

Throughout the week there will then be a programme of fun and interactive activities organised by RISE Recovery, YSMART, Devon County Council and Drink Wise, Age Well at different locations around the county.

On Monday, November 14, there will be a stand outside Exeter Guildhall from 1-5pm and at The Lantern Centre in Ilfracombe.

Visitors to the stands will be able to take part in mocktail workshops as well as play a ‘pour a unit’ game and do some ‘drunk goggle’ activities.

The stand will then be at Newton Abbot 10am-2pm on Wednesday November 16 and Totnes Shady Garden on Friday November 18 10am-2pm.

The theme for this year’s national awareness week is ‘Know the Risks’.  The aim of Alcohol Awareness Week is to get people thinking about alcohol – how it affects us as individuals, families, communities and society as a whole.

Devon has below average adult alcohol-related hospital admissions and alcohol-related deaths. However, while binge drinking in young adults in the UK has been steadily declining, levels of alcohol consumption and the prevalence of exceeding the recommended drink limits have remained relatively stable amongst older adults and levels of alcohol-related harm in this group are increasing.

A recent study by Drink Wise, Age Well revealed that nearly of third of men aged 65-74 consume more than the daily recommended limit, whilst around 20% of women aged 65-74 do so. The study also showed a high level of stigma and shame associated with drinking in older adults.

virginia pearsonDr Virginia Pearson, Devon’s Director of Public Health, which commissions RISE Recovery Services, said: “Devon is in line with the national increasing trend in older adults, particularly women, who are drinking at risky levels.

“There is increasing evidence that alcohol is linked to a number of cancers, as well as contributing to increasing levels of hospital emergency admissions. Alcohol Awareness week gives us all the chance to reflect on our drinking habits, and offer support and advice for people who do want to make changes to their lifestyle and health.”

Latest data for Devon* shows that 47.3% of all clients in treatment with RISE Recovery so far in 2016/17 are using alcohol either as or alongside their problem substance and 39% of all clients currently in treatment with RISE Recovery are classified as “Alcohol” or “Alcohol & Non Opiate” users.

RISE Recovery manager in Exeter Richard Jones said: “More people come to see us for support with an alcohol issue than any other substance. It’s readily available, socially acceptable to use and very cheap. This week’s activities are focussed on raising people’s awareness so they know the responsible way to use alcohol and the risks involved when unwise choices are made around it.”

Andy King, aged 50, has been abstinent from alcohol since April 2014 and is now a Recovery Champion at RISE Recovery, where he runs a recovery café in Tiverton as well as support groups and is training to become an alcohol counsellor.

Andy said: “I’d always been a drinker, aren’t most of us? Like many of my friends I used to drink when I was a kid about 12 or 13 and then growing up. For 20 years I worked in hard manual labour and it was almost expected of you to go to the pub and drink after work. Then come the weekends it was like we’d deserved to drink a lot.

“Dependency on alcohol crept up on me, as did depression. I didn’t want to admit it to myself, but my life had slowly become a right mess and I leaned on alcohol.

“My health suffered and I ended up in hospital a lot with liver problems and a duodenum ulcer which burst. I was also hep C positive. It was the hospital staff who suggested I contact RISE Recovery. They told me I was going to kill myself if I carried on as I was so I finally reached out for support.

I got the support I needed from not just my key worker but the friends I made in that group. It kept me strong and still does. Then I started volunteering and that has helped my recovery greatly because I’ve been helping others.

“My life has changed completely since detoxing. Everything had fallen apart and like most people I didn’t want to admit how much I was drinking. But being honest with yourself is the first step and it’s taken me five years to get to this point. You have to choose life over alcohol and not worry about people ribbing you for drinking J2Os instead of a pint. The support networks I have now make all that achievable.”

RISE Recovery provides a recovery-orientated drug and alcohol service to people across Devon. Drink Wise Age Well provides information on alcohol and getting older to allow people aged over 50 to make informed choices about their alcohol use and to get help if they need it.  YSMART provides high quality, accessible, targeted prevention and treatment drug and alcohol services specifically for young people across the county.

*Statistics from PHE Adult Activity Partnership Report Q1 1617 (Devon)

Posted in: Health and Wellbeing