December 2020 | Page 8


Wise Up

With awareness of the damaging effects of alcohol still nowhere near where it should be , DDN looks at some recent attempts to educate the public about the risks most of us still tend to ignore

The third week of last per cent level , depending on which

month was Alcohol survey you look at , with awareness Awareness Week , of the links with conditions like which this year high blood pressure and heart took the theme of disease also remaining low . alcohol and mental None of this is helped , of course , health ( DDN , November , page by the fact that self-regulation 5 ). While the long-established means that inclusion of health risk week complements other annual information on alcohol labelling initiatives like Dry January and is still voluntary , and the industry Sober October , the public ’ s has in the past even been accused awareness around alcohol remains of deliberately misrepresenting stubbornly low . the evidence about alcohol-related
When the government launched cancer risks ( DDN , October 2017 , its consultation on labelling all page 4 ). What ’ s more , there hasn ’ t alcohol products with calorie been a new UK alcohol strategy for information it was revealed that almost a decade , and it ’ s unlikely despite 3.4m people consuming to be near the top of the list of an extra day ’ s worth of calories government priorities anytime each week in the form of alcohol , soon . With the added impact of the around 80 per cent of the public were unaware of the calorific content of their drinks ( DDN , October , page 4 ). And while most people probably know that excessive drinking can cause liver damage , awareness levels of the links between alcohol use and cancer tend to hover
Change , Grow , Live alcohol advice quiz at www . changegrowlive . org around the 10-13
COVID-19 lockdowns on people ’ s drinking habits , the need has arguably never been greater to make sure people are armed with as much knowledge as possible .
COPING MECHANISMS And that impact seems to have been significant . More than a quarter of drinkers said they drank more during the first lockdown , with half of this group saying they ’ d probably keep drinking at the same levels after it lifted ( DDN , July / August , page 5 ). And lockdowns have significantly exacerbated existing problems of loneliness and isolation , both of which can mean people increasing their alcohol intake .
A YouGov survey commissioned by Turning Point found that more than one in ten people who experienced loneliness were turning to alcohol to cope ( DDN , March , page 5 ), while new research from With You ( We Are With You ) has revealed that more than 4m over- 50s were binge drinking at least once a week during lockdown ( see news , page 5 ). The same survey found that 5.2m over-50s were drinking alone because of the restrictions , with 1.9m drinking earlier in the day .
While it ’ s long been apparent that many older people increase their alcohol consumption as a result of things like retirement and boredom , it ’ s clear that lockdowns