HEALTH leaders in Gloucestershire are urging residents to "be mindful" of their drinking habits before they become harmful ahead of the festive season.
Gloucestershire’s Director of Public Health, Siobhan Farmer, has published her annual report which highlights society’s complex relationship with alcohol and the impact it has on us.
The report, titled ‘Just Another Drop? The Ripple Effect of Alcohol’, acknowledges that alcohol is embedded in the fabric of our society and that for many of us it is a fundamental part of socialising, relaxing or celebrating life events.
However, around 1 in 5 people (21%) are consuming alcohol at levels which put them at an increased risk of harm.
As well as being linked to wide range of physical and mental health issues, alcohol can also impact relationships, work, cause financial strain, and increase your risk of being a victim or perpetrator of crime.
The report uses evidence and cases studies to show how this threshold for harm is often much lower than we realise.
It also looks at the wider negative effects alcohol can have on families, communities, local services, and the wider environment and economy.
Siobhan Farmer, Director of Public Health at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Focussing on alcohol can lead to criticisms of telling people what to do and policing people’s fun.
"But it would be remiss of me, with responsibility for the health and wellbeing of the people in Gloucestershire, to ignore alcohol when it is one of the biggest contributors to the health and wellbeing of the local population.
“This report is also challenging because I have personal experience of the impact of alcohol. In a video clip, I share Jane’s story, which I felt was an important example of how alcohol can affect all of us in many ways.”
The report urges people to consider how they can work together to support individuals to understand their own drinking behaviour and how agencies, such as councils, housing, the NHS, and the police, can prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm.
The report makes recommendations that the Public Health and Communities team at the county council has committed to, as well recommendations for other agencies in the county, to help reduce alcohol-related harm in Gloucestershire.
The final recommendation is for individuals to be more mindful of their own drinking – and the report includes practical tips on how to do this.
If you would like more support to cut down on alcohol, the Healthy Lifestyles Service can help .
Call 0800 122 3788 for free to start your journey or find out more online at www.hlsglos.org/programmes/drink-less
Change Grow Live is Gloucestershire’s alcohol recovery service, supporting those with more complex addiction issues to change their relationship with alcohol and move on with their lives.
They provide virtual and in person peer support and group sessions to help with unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.