People across Bath and North East Somerset are being urged to talk about the impact alcohol can have on their relationships and consider changing their drinking habits for a happier, healthier life.
During this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs from 15-21 November, Bath & North East Somerset Council is joining over 4,000 other community groups across the UK to raise awareness of the ways in which alcohol can affect us and our relationships with those around us.
Many of us drink alcohol for a variety of ever-changing reasons, including: to relax, to socialise, to de-stress, to have fun, to relieve boredom, to deal with feelings of loneliness, and to try and cope with or avoid problems. However, drinking too much and too often can cause or exacerbate all sorts of problems with our physical and mental health, including damaging relationships with our loved ones.
Becky Reynolds, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Director of Public Health said: “For some of us, alcohol can become a central aspect of our relationships with friends, family or partners. When this happens, it can actually stop us taking action to improve our drinking habits.
“Alcohol can also negatively affect our relationships. It can heighten family tensions, get in the way of clear communication, and mean we are less present for each other, including our children and young people. And if a loved one is drinking heavily, it can cause huge worry. There is also a real risk of someone’s drinking causing further trauma, with alcohol being a contributory factor in many cases of intimate partner violence, child neglect and abuse of vulnerable individuals.
“It’s why during this year’s Alcohol Awareness week we’re encouraging people to talk openly and honestly about the way their own or someone else’s drinking habits are affecting them and people around them and to consider making changes.”
Councillor Dine Romero, cabinet member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture, added: “Many people use alcohol as a lifeline, a way to cope with worries stress and anxiety and over the course of the pandemic these problems have got worse for many of us, but too much alcohol can cause both physical and mental health problems.
“As we return to a more normal life, many of us are facing new pressures – pressures to drink, sober shaming (being made to feel not drinking is wrong), and the pressures we put on ourselves to get back to ‘normal’ socialising. Alcohol Awareness Week is a chance for us to reassess our relationship with booze. By listening to others and talking about the challenges we face we can work towards making positive changes to improve our relationships and our health and wellbeing.”
Bath & North East Somerset Council will be sharing some key messages and activities on social media and providing training to professionals and volunteers in the local area.
Led by Alcohol Change UK, Alcohol Awareness Week aims to get people thinking and talking about alcohol, to motivate change at every level – individual, community and national.
Dr Richard Piper, Chief Executive of Alcohol Change UK, said: “Our relationships with other humans are wonderful but complex, and at times they can be really tough. With many of us drinking much more during the pandemic, for many different reasons, our relationships at home, with friends and at work can become even tougher. And if our partner, friend or loved one is drinking heavily, it can cause huge tensions and disagreements, and even lead to us drinking more too, in an attempt to cope or escape.
“By talking to each other about alcohol and our relationships (while we’re sober!) we can help each other to better understand how alcohol might be affecting us and those around us.
“And by taking control of our drinking, rather than letting it control us, we can develop better, happier relationships, as well as improved health and wellbeing. A great way to start is by recording what you drink for a few weeks to help you understand your drinking pattern, then setting yourself some small achievable goals to get it back under control. Use the free app Try Dry to help you keep track and set goals to help you cut down.”
Alcohol Awareness Week provides an important opportunity for us all to:
- Talk about the issues around alcohol and its effects on our physical and mental health, and our relationships, helping us make more informed choices about our drinking.
- Listen to each other, properly, and with curiosity, to understand how our behaviours may be affecting our friends and those we love.
- Realise that it’s normal to develop a bit of a drinking problem, and it’s possible to take back control.
- Call for action to help those most in need, including the 200,000 children living with an alcohol-dependent parent or carer.
- Explain to people where they can access a bit of extra support if they are struggling to take control of their drinking on their own.
It’s easy to take part in Alcohol Awareness Week. Join us by:
- Sharing your stories, events and activities on social media using the hashtag #AlcoholAwarenessWeek.
- Visit the Alcohol Change UK website and sign up for free resources to share across the week.
- Use the Alcohol Change UK resources to highlight the issues and drive a conversation in your community.