Health and Wellbeing

Devon supports national campaign to tackle the harm to families from alcohol misuse

Alcohol Awareness Week

Posted on: 19 November 2018

Every year thousands of lives are lost and hundreds of thousands damaged as a result of alcohol. It’s time for change – Devon County Council supports Alcohol Awareness Week 2018 

Devon County Council is supporting Alcohol Awareness Week 2018 to shine a light on the harmful effects of drinking on children and family life.

The week builds on last year’s Alcohol Awareness Week, which focused on the effects of harmful drinking on families, and how they can get support.

In Devon, around 7,300 adults are dependent on alcohol, and nationally around 200,000 children are living with an alcohol-dependent adult.  This can have a lifelong negative impact. 

Around 40% of young carers, aged 13 or 14 years, with parents with alcohol or drug problems have missed school because of their caring responsibilities.

There are currently over 10 million people in England drinking at levels which increase their risk of health harm. Alcohol related harm is estimated to cost the NHS £.5 billion annually and the latest data shows that around 4,900 were treated in hospital for illness or injury resulting from alcohol related harm in 2016/17.  In that same year, around 200 under 18s were admitted to hospital episodes for alcohol specific conditions in Devon.

Among those aged 15 to 49 in England, alcohol is now the leading risk factor for ill-health, early mortality and disability and the fifth leading risk factor for ill health across all age groups. In 2017/18 an estimated 365 alcohol-related deaths occurred in Devon. 

OneSmallStep, the healthy lifestyle service commissioned by Devon County Council’s Public Health, provides information, advice and support to people who are risking their health through drinking too much, as well as providing support for people to quit smoking, eat more healthily and increase their activity.  

Councillor Roger Croad, Cabinet Member with responsibility for the healthy lifestyle service, said: “In Devon, the equivalent of one person every day dies from an alcohol-related death.  This is a stark statistic and shows that both locally and nationally, we need to continue to address alcohol misuse as a serious issue.

“This campaign is about making healthy choices when it comes to alcohol. It aims to start the conversation around recognising and responding to alcohol’s impact on an individual’s lifestyle, and the wider impact it has on our friends and family.

“Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink is easier with the right support. There are a number of free and confidential support groups available in Devon and online including OneSmallStep.

 “OneSmallStep Devon provides free and friendly support to help you reduce the amount of alcohol you are drinking.

“Devon’s GPs and pharmacists can also give advice and tips to help drinkers reduce the amount of alcohol they are consuming.”

31-year-old Daniel has a learning disability and lives in Honiton. He was referred to OneSmallStep through his community enabler to reduce to his alcohol intake.

Daniel works part time in the kitchen of a nearby golf club. He helps staff by washing dishes and keeping the club tidy. Last year he was admitted to hospital because of drinking.

During his initial OneSmallStep assessment, Daniel informed the adviser of his disability. Daniel was paired with a OneSmallStep wellness coach, Lisa, has experience with face-to-face as well as telephone coaching.

Lisa established that when Daniel’s living space was messy, he was more likely to drink alcohol.

Daniel says: “I live on my own and sometimes I struggle to keep my flat tidy. Lisa explained that if I keep my environment clean, it will help me feel comfortable and more at home.”

Lisa asked Daniel to start an alcohol diary and record how much he drank. They were able to discuss his units and determine any negative drinking patterns in their sessions.

Lisa also invited Daniel’s mother to their first meeting.  

“I felt if Daniel’s mother joined us she could offer him additional support and encouragement. It was Daniel’s mother who initially raised concerns about his drinking. She found a number of empty alcohol bottles lying around in his bedroom, which is one of the main reasons I was asked to help.”

Lisa supports Daniel to set and achieve small changes each week to make an impact in lots of areas of his life.

“I live in a small town and I don’t have a huge group of friends,” says Daniel. “I don’t use Facebook and my phone is very basic, so I don’t really have access to the internet. Lisa helps me by finding social meet ups and activity groups, and she also suggested I could join the gym, which I intend to do.”

Despite his tendency to binge drink, Lisa now feels Daniel’s intake is better controlled.

“I am very happy with Daniel’s progress and his alcohol intake has significantly reduced. If Daniel is motivated to keep fit; he is less likely to want to drink alcohol. By encouraging him to go to the gym, he will keep busy and active, and ultimately it will help him feel good about himself.”

As well as offering a telephone and online service, OneSmallStep will be out and about at the following locations across Devon to talk to the public about the campaign. 

21st November                           Pop Up-Cancer Wellbeing event, Barnstaple. (AAW)

23rd November                           Pop Up- Asda Barnstaple. (AAW)

30th November                           Pop Up-Green Lanes, Shopping Mall, Barnstaple

Please check OneSmallStep social media for further event information

Posted in: Health and Wellbeing