Alcohol Awareness Week: 18th-24th November

alcohol awareness weekWhat is Alcohol Awareness Week?

Organised by Alcohol Concern, Alcohol Awareness Week takes place 18th–24th of November 2013 and aims to raise awareness of the UK’s growing problem with alcohol.

This year’s theme is ‘Conversations about alcohol’ and the aim of the week is to encourage people to talk about alcohol – from the health risks of over-drinking, to the social problems it causes.

It also aims to show the bigger picture of the UK’s alcohol problem, by discussing how it affects individuals, families, communities and society as a whole.

What is the goal?

The goal of Alcohol Awareness Week is to change the UK’s relationship with alcohol. The campaign aims to raise awareness and is encouraging local authorities, NHS, emergency services, treatment services, schools, colleges and universities to help spread the message.

As well as starting a nationwide conversation about alcohol, the campaign aims to encourage more people to sign up to next year’s ‘Dry January’ event. For this, participants give up alcohol for one month.

The first event earlier this year was such as success that the organisers are hoping that even more people will sign up for 2014.

The UK’s growing problem with alcohol

Alcohol misuse is a big problem in the UK and this particularly evident when you compare our alcohol consumption to other OECD countries. According to Alcohol Concern, between 1980 and 2009, alcohol consumption has fallen in most OECD countries by an average of 9%. Whereas in the UK, alcohol consumption has increased by 9%.

The growing problem of alcohol misuse costs England around £21 billion per year in healthcare, crime and lost productivity costs. And this is just the financial burden of alcohol – part of Alcohol Awareness Weeks is encouraging people think about the emotional burden on individuals and families.

Key facts from this year’s campaign

The focus of this years’ campaign is on how alcohol affects your health, well-being and sleeping pattern. Alcohol Concern uses these four key facts to show how alcohol misuse can affect everyday life.

  • Over 45s are three times more likely to drink alcohol every day
  • People who work are more likely to drink than unemployed people
  • Around 200,000 people come to work with a hangover everyday
  • Alcohol was the biggest risk factor for cancer after smoking

The scope of the problem

Alcohol is a factor in more than 60 medical conditions including: liver, throat, stomach, mouth and breast cancers; high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver and depression.

The effects of alcohol misuse are wider than individual health. It’s the cause of many social problems – for example, alcohol-related crime cost £11 billion from 2010-2011. Alcohol misuse also affects 2.6 million children in the UK, who are living with parents who are drinking hazardously and 70,000 who live with dependant drinkers.

For more information about how alcohol could be affecting our everyday life, take a look at the NHS Alcohol support page.