Campaign to cut alcohol intake

A campaign to encourage people to reduce the amount of alcohol they drink is being launched in Liverpool on Monday, 18 November.

Dry January, run by the Public Health team at Liverpool City Council, aims to get people thinking about their alcohol intake in the run up to the festive season, and commit to reducing it through the first month of 2014 and beyond.

It is estimated that more than 40,000 adults in Liverpool drink more than they should do – with around 11,000 at a high risk of harm.

Using the slogan ‘Fewer Units, More Happy Hours’, the campaign wants as many people as possible to pledge to cut their drinking through a new website – www.fewerunits.co.uk

The online portal includes tips on reducing drinking and a downloadable app for smartphones which enables users to measure the alcohol content of drinks.

People are being asked to consider:

• Having two free alcohol days per week
• Alternating alcohol with soft drinks
• Choosing drinks with fewer units
• Not keeping lots of alcohol at home

The campaign is being launched at the alcohol-free Brink Bar on Parr Street in the city centre at midday.

Deputy Mayor, Cabinet member for adult social care and health, Councillor Roz Gladden, said: “We have already had success in reducing the number of hospital admissions caused by drinking too much, but we have to do more.

“This work is important because it asks everybody who enjoys a drink to take a moment to look at what their habits are and commit to reducing their intake. It is very easy to underestimate the amount that you are drinking.

“This is a vital step towards reducing the risk of future alcohol related health problems which can have a negative impact on the lives of people and those around them, as well as costing the NHS a lot of money.”

The event will see the inaugural performance of a thought provoking theatre production by Genie in the Gutter, a local charity that supports substance misusers into recovery. Titled ‘One More for the Road’, and set against the backdrop of a hospital accident and emergency ward, it showcases a range of drinkers and how they use alcohol, and aims to get people thinking about their own relationship with alcohol.

The production, which will tour the city, will see interactive workshops taking place after the performance in which the audience will be asked which of the following four types of drinkers they best resemble:

Chardonnay Socialites: Typically middle aged men and women with families who drink to socialise. They tend to have a glass of wine with a meal during the week and more at the weekends with friends. Whilst they often spot the short term effects of their consumption such as weight gain, they think they are in control of their units and don’t realise how much they actually drink

Ritual Relaxers: Typically single and of all ages. They include single parents and those who work unsociable hours. They tend to drink on their own to relax at the end of the day as a reward. They often notice the short term effects of their consumption such as weight gain but are generally shocked to find out how much they actually drink

Balanced Bingers: Typically younger people with no children who drink heavily socially at the weekends. They are likely to drink in clubs and pubs one or two nights a week and tend to mix their drinks. They are aware that they drink a lot on these nights but they feel they ‘balance’ it out by not drinking during the week and by having an otherwise healthy lifestyle, eg: going to the gym and eating well

Drinkers in Denial: Typically older males who drink socially at the pub with friends and when watching the match and some also at home. They tend to drink regularly due to their lifestyles, eg: retired with a lot of free time and they have a strong preference for pints and spirits. They understand the health consequences but they have enjoyed drinking for a long time and are unwilling to change

People will also complete a questionnaire to find out if their drinking is within Department of Health guidelines, or is placing them at increasing or higher risk of alcohol related harm.

Dr Paula Grey, Liverpool’s Director of Public Health said: “The work we are planning to undertake in the coming months is not about telling people not to drink – it is about asking them to consider their own drinking levels to see where they could cut down.

“Our message is that fewer units usually means more happy hours both in the context of better physical health as it will reduce their calorie intake, and improving their mental health and wellbeing.”

Alcohol Concern, a national charity whose goal is to improve lives through reducing the harm caused by alcohol, will evaluate the campaign to measure its success.