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Thinking on drinking

This July, Alcohol Awareness Week looks at making people conscious of how, when, where and why we choose to consume alcohol.

The middle of the year brings with it an important health campaign, and many ways for the whole pharmacy team to get involved.

From 1-7 July, Alcohol Change UK runs Alcohol Awareness Week. This year, the week will be following the theme ‘Understanding Alcohol Harm’. The awareness campaign aims to highlight the many ways in which alcohol can play a central role in our lives, whether we know it or not, and how we can become more mindful of our consumption.

Understanding Alcohol Harm

“Alcohol Awareness Week is a chance for the UK to get thinking about drinking. It’s a week of awareness-raising, campaigning for change and more,” says Alcohol Change UK. This year’s theme of ‘Understanding Alcohol Harm’ aims to bring light to the harm alcohol does – to those who consume it and to those around them, too. “We’ll be exploring exactly what we mean by ‘alcohol harm’ and challenging the stereotype of alcohol as an ‘individual’s problem’.” While alcohol affects individuals daily in the UK, there is more to be said and understood for the larger role that alcohol occupies in our culture. Dr Richard Piper, chief executive of Alcohol Change UK, comments: “Alcohol plays a centre-stage role in our society – it’s all around us, everywhere we go. Promoted as we watch our favourite sports, advertised as we travel to work, prominently displayed in our supermarkets, and strategically placed in our favourite films and TV shows. And drinking alcohol is often the default position. Had a bad day or feeling anxious? Have a drink, you’ll feel better. Something to celebrate or commiserate? Let’s drink to that!”

Alcohol consumption can harm one’s health and wellbeing in various ways; it affects sleep – which has a ripple effect on other aspects of our lives – it can impact relationships, attitudes and quality of life. “From the quality of sleep we’re getting, to our relationships with those we love, alcohol is harming our health and wellbeing on a daily basis. And each year, thousands of people experience long-term health problems as a result of the alcohol they drink, or die from alcohol-related causes,” adds Dr Piper.

How can pharmacy help 

“The reality is that over 10 million of us are drinking alcohol in a way that can cause health problems. And these health harms do not just affect the heavy or dependent drinkers that we often think about,” explains Dr Piper. 

Through the participation of over 5,000 pharmacies, public health teams, workplaces, GP surgeries, hospitals and charities, Alcohol Change UK hopes to get the UK talking. “Because we know that with the right culture and policies in place, we can create an environment where we are all better informed and better protected from the harms caused by alcohol,” says Dr Piper. Pharmacy teams can make use of Alcohol Change UK’s free, downloadable resources available on their website: to create awareness in the pharmacy. They can also share tips for those wanting to know more about the impact alcohol can have on their life and the lives of others – including the health and wellbeing benefits of cutting down on alcohol consumption.

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