December 2020 | Page 5

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More than half of over 50s drinking at risky levels

More than 50 per

cent of over 50s are drinking at levels that ‘ could cause health problems now or in the future ’, according to research commissioned by With You ( We Are With You ), while almost a quarter are classed as ‘ high risk or possibly dependent ’. The findings have been released as the charity launches a free helpline for anyone over 50 who may be worried about their drinking . Using a validated screening tool , the survey of 1,150 people also found that more than 4m over 50s were binge drinking at least once a week during lockdown . Almost 2m stated that lockdown had led to them drinking earlier in the day , while more than 5m said that restrictions had led to them drinking alone .
People aged over 55 are already the group most likely to drink at hazardous levels , the charity points out . More than 1.3m over 50s said the second lockdown would lead to them drinking ‘ even more ’, however . As well as the effects of lockdown on drinking habits and mental health , the research also reveals its impact on families , with one in three people whose parents are over 50 worried about the drinking habits

Military mindset

MORE THAN 70 PER CENT of serving and ex-service personnel with an alcohol problem have not sought help , according to a Forces in Mind Trust report by the University of Liverpool and King ’ s College . Only half of those who met the criteria for alcohol misuse even recognised that they had a problem , it adds .
‘ We know that military personnel are more likely to experience alcohol problems than the general population and this report has established that a large proportion of those with a problem do not seek any help ,’ said Dr Laura Goodwin of the University of Liverpool . ‘ One reason for this is due to low recognition of alcohol problems , which may be driven by heavy drinking being normalised in a military context . We need to do more to address the stigma around alcohol problems and to support those who require support to access it .’ Help seeking for alcohol problems at www . fim-trust . org / reports /
of at least one parent since March . ‘ We know that life changes such as bereavement , retirement and a lack of purpose have led to older adults drinking more in recent years while younger generations are drinking less ,’ said head of the Drink Wise , Age Well programme at With You , Julie Breslin . ‘ Nearly 80 per cent of over 50s we work with drink at home alone , hidden from view . It ’ s clear from these findings that the necessary coronavirus restrictions have exacerbated these issues whilst having a big impact on older adults ’ mental health .’
Meanwhile , Change Grow Live has developed a short online quiz to help people find out if they are drinking dependently and the kind of support they are likely to need , as well a free webchat service . ONS estimates suggest that the total number of people drinking more than the recommended guidelines increased from 4.8m to 8.4m during the first lockdown . ‘ It is now essential that the government acts to address this increase in higher risk drinking ,’ said Change Grow Live executive director Nic Adamson . ‘ Unless we have the capacity to reach and support over 3m more people who are now identified as high-risk drinkers , the long-term
' Coronavirus restrictions have exacerbated these issues whilst having a big impact on older adults ’ mental health .'
implications for public health will be disastrous ’
• Helpline at 0808 8010750 .
• Alcohol quiz at www . changegrowlive . org / advice-info / alcohol-drugs / alcohol-drinkinglevels-quiz-self-assessment
• See feature page 8

ACMD : Reclassify GHB

GHB , GBL AND RELATED COMPOUND 1,4-BD should be reclassified as class B substances , the ACMD has stated in a letter to home secretary Priti Patel . She had written to the ACMD earlier this year requesting an urgent review of GHB ’ s classification following high profile cases in which it had been used to facilitate rapes and murders ( DDN , February , page 5 ).
However , classification and scheduling on their own are ‘ unlikely ’ to be sufficient to significantly reduce the harms associated with GHB and related substances ( GHBRS ), the commission states , and calls for improved monitoring and reporting of levels of use .
There also needs to be better integration of drug treatment and sexual health service commissioning to tackle the harms associated with GHBRS use , it says , as well as measures to ensure that services are accessible and non-exclusive .
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Higher learning RCPsych ’ s ‘ higher trainee of the year ’ award has gone to Dr Emmert Roberts at the National Addiction Centre . ‘ Addiction psychiatry is a subspecialty on the brink of extinction ,’ he said , and hoped the award helped RCPsych advocate ‘ for funding parity for the millions of patients with drug , alcohol and tobacco addiction in the UK ’. List of winners at www . rcpsych . ac . uk
Light work The Blue Light project has now worked with more than 70 local authorities and is looking to engage with more to help develop their responses to change resistant drinkers . Contact Mike . Ward @ alcoholchange . org . uk
Key lessons A full evaluation of London ’ s Homeless Hotel Drug and Alcohol Service ( HDAS ) ( DDN , September , page 6 ) – established to provide support to people in emergency hotel accommodation during the pandemic – has been published , including guidance for future provision . Lessons learned at https :// osf . io / 7cdbx /