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‘Alcohol Awareness Week’ – Cornwall residents urged to drink in moderation and access alcohol support services if needed

With Alcohol Awareness Week beginning on Monday, November 16, Cornwall Council’s Drugs and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) as part of Safer Cornwall are urging people to stay safe and drink in moderation this lockdown – and beyond. 

Alcohol can seem like an attractive escape when confronted with the pressures, uncertainty and anxieties of another national lockdown. 

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Statistics show that sales of alcoholic drinks soared by 67 per cent in the week leading up to the first lockdown in March [1] and support services and charities have become concerned that alcohol consumption has risen sharply during the pandemic. 

Cllr Rob Nolan, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for communities and public protection, said: “We know things are tough at the moment and this second lockdown may be causing people distress, which could lead some of us to drink a little more alcohol than we normally would to manage this. 

“But we must remember that drinking too much can take a severe toll on our work, family and friends. If you’re already struggling with mental health difficulties alcohol will also make things much worse for you. 

“Fortunately, there is a lot of useful information, advice and support available to help people maintain a healthy balance between general wellbeing, mental health and alcohol consumption.” 

One in five Britons who drink – about 8.6 million people – have begun drinking more often since the first lockdown started, according to research by the charity Alcohol Change UK, which represents alcohol service providers. [2] 

In Cornwall nearly a quarter of adults are said to drink above recommended healthy levels, and alcohol related hospital admissions went up by 6% last year. [3] 

Alcohol is a depressant and can exacerbate mental health conditions. It is also said to be a contributory factor in up to half of all incidences of domestic violence. [4] 

Kim Hager, joint commissioning manager for the DAAT, said: “Having a drink is a quick but deceptive fix but in the long run it can make stress harder to deal with. Contrary to how it feels initially, alcohol is a depressant. It affects the chemicals in your brain which can make you feel relaxed, but it can also let negative feelings such as anxiety, depression and anger take more of a grip.  

“For alternative and healthier ways to relax, why not consider exercise, listening to music or talking to friends and family.” 

Liz Howard, DAAT alcohol strategy coordinator with Cornwall Council, said: “The pandemic is affecting us all in different ways. Some of us are drinking more and this can have an adverse effect on our mental health. 

“If you, or someone you know, is worried about their alcohol consumption you can use the #Drinksmeter app to monitor your drinking levels.  

“The app also considers other personal circumstances such as mental health, pregnancy and other health issues which may affect your reaction to alcohol and will offer you advice, support and information that meets the needs of your personal drinking habits.” 

People can download the app on their phones or visit the drinksmeter website for more information. 

For support and advice on cutting down your alcohol intake contact charity We Are With You on 0333 2000 325 or visit the We Are With You website.

Contact the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) on 01726 223400 or 07816 062262. Email them at DAAT@cornwall.gov.uk  

The Safer Cornwall community safety partnership has more information, including plans to tackle alcohol abuse in the county.  

Footnotes:

[1] Source: British Medical Journal 

[2] Source: Alcohol Change UK 

[3] Source: Safer Cornwall community safety partnership  

[4] Source: British Medical Journal