‘Drink Free Days’ to encourage middle- aged drinkers to cut down

Public Health England | September 2018 |Public Health England and Drinkaware launch Drink Free Days

A new press release from Public Health England highlights how two thirds of regular drinkers say that cutting down on their drinking is harder than improving diet or exercise.

In a new collaboration Public Health England and alcohol education charity Drinkaware have  jointly launching a new campaign ‘Drink Free Days’ to help people cut down on the amount of alcohol they are regularly drinking. 

coffee

The campaign has been designed to encourage middle aged drinkers to reduce their alcohol intake by taking days off from drinking, which is a way of reducing health risks from alcohol.

The more alcohol people drink , the greater their risk of developing a number of serious potentially life limiting health conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as 7 types of cancer (Source: PHE).

 

Read the full release here 

You can download the Drink Free Days app from Public Health England here 

Related:

RCGP’s response to the  Alcohol guidelines ‘set for a reason’, says RCGP
Drinkaware’s Drink Compare Calculator 

In the media:

BBC News Middle-aged should have ‘drink-free’ days, say campaigners 

UCL research indicates that arteries of youths who smoke and drink are already starting to stiffen

UCL | August 218 |UCL research indicates that arteries youths who smoke and drink are already starting to harden 

New research from University College London (UCL) shows that smoking and drinking even infrequently and at lower levels (than in adult studies) as a youth , is linked to loss of arterial elasticity (arterial stiffening) (via UCL).

The study used analysed data from  more than 1,200 adolescents from Children of the 90s, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), during a five-year period between 2004 and 2008.

adults-alcohol-alcoholic-beverage-1304473.jpg

“We found that in this large contemporary British cohort, drinking and smoking in adolescence, even at lower levels compared to those reported in adult studies, is associated with arterial stiffening and atherosclerosis progression,” said senior author, Professor John Deanfield (UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science).

Interestingly the research team also discovered “that if teenagers stopped smoking and drinking during adolescence, their arteries returned to normal suggesting that there are opportunities to preserve arterial health from a young age.”

Dr Mariettta  Charakida who was part of the team involved in the research said: “The age at which participants started drinking alcohol was not associated with arterial health, suggesting that duration of exposure might not be that important at this young age,” added Dr Charakida. “In addition, no beneficial effect of low alcohol consumption was found with regards to arterial health.”

Read the full press release at UCL

The research article is published in the European Heart Journal 

Abstract

Aims

To determine the impact of smoking and alcohol exposure during adolescence on arterial stiffness at 17 years.

Methods and results

Smoking and alcohol use were assessed by questionnaires at 13, 15, and 17 years in 1266 participants (425 males and 841 females) from the ALSPAC study. Smoking status (smokers and non-smoker) and intensity (‘high’ more than or equal to 100, ‘moderate’ 20–99, and ‘low or never’ less than 20 cigarettes in lifetime) were ascertained. Participants were classified by frequency (low or high) and intensity of drinking [light (LI less than 2), medium (MI 3–9), and heavy (HI more than 10 drinks on a typical drinking day)]. Carotid to femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) was assessed at 17 years [mean ± standard deviation and/or mean difference (95% confidence intervals)]. Current smokers had higher PWV compared with non-smokers (P = 0.003). Higher smoking exposure was associated with higher PWV compared with non-smokers. Participants who stopped smoking had similar PWV to never smokers (P = 0.160). High-intensity drinkers had increased PWV. There was an additive effect of smoking intensity and alcohol intensity, so that ‘high’ smokers who were also HI drinkers had higher PWV compared with never-smokers and LI drinkers [mean adjusted increase 0.603.

Conclusion

Smoking exposure even at low levels and intensity of alcohol use were associated individually and together with increased arterial stiffness. Public health strategies need to prevent adoption of these habits in adolescence to preserve or restore arterial health.

Full reference: Charakida, M. et al.| 2018|Early vascular damage from smoking and alcohol in teenage years: the ALSPAC study|European Heart Journal|  ehy524 |https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehy524

This article can be requested by Rotherham NHS staff here 

 

In the news:

BBC News Teenagers who smoke and drink suffer ill effects by age of 17

Heavy drinkers generate alcohol industries profit

University of Sheffield | August 2018 | Two-thirds of alcohol sales are to heavy drinkers 

A new study from the University of Sheffield’s Alcohol Research Group in conjunction with the Institute of Alcohol Studies research has  found that alcoholic beverages purchased in supermarkets and off-licences (81 per cent) compared to pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants (60 per cent)  were more likely to be consumed above guideline levels. The research findings which have now been published in the journal Addiction show that if people consuming alcohol followed guidance and adhered to recommended levels of intake, sales of alcohol would plummet by £13 billion. 

The study also indicates that heavy drinkers generate a greater share of revenue for producers of beer (77 per cent), cider (70 per cent) and wine (66 per cent) than spirits (50 per cent).

alcoholic-beverages-1845295_1920

Notable findings :

• Drinkers consuming more than the government’s low-risk guideline of 14 units per week make up a quarter of the population, but provide 68 per cent of industry revenue.

• Four per cent of the population drinking at levels identified as ‘harmful’ account for almost a quarter (23 per cent) of the total value of all alcohol sold.

The research, also explores the financial importance of heavy drinking to different types of retailers and producers (via University of Sheffield).

The full news release is available from the University of Sheffield 

The journal article is available from Addiction 

Full reference: Maheswaran, R., Green, M. A., Strong, M., Brindley, P., Angus, C., and Holmes, J. | 2018|  Alcohol outlet density and alcohol related hospital admissions in England: a national small‐area level ecological study|  Addiction|  https://doi.org/10.1111/add.14285.

Related:

Alcohol outlet density and alcohol related hospital admissions in England: a national small‐area level ecological study via Wiley 

In the news:

The Telegraph Heavy drinkers fuel alcohol industry

Evening Standard Alcohol Firms would lose a staggering £13bn if drinkers in England stuck to limits, study shows 

Developing pathways for alcohol treatment

Guidance on referring alcohol dependent patients from hospital to specialist alcohol treatment in the hospital or in the community | Public Health England

beer-bottles-3151245_1920

This guidance is about developing pathways for referral and care and for patients whose routine alcohol screening in secondary care suggests that they may be alcohol dependent.

It can be used by people implementing the Preventing ill health by risky behaviours – alcohol and tobacco CQUIN in acute, mental health and community trusts. It can also be used by NHS commissioners and planners and those planning, commissioning and providing community alcohol treatment.

The guidance aims to:

  • show the components of treatment for dependent drinking
  • describe what helps patients’ smooth passage through their treatment for alcohol dependence

Full guidance: Developing pathways for referring patients from secondary care to specialist alcohol treatment

Adult substance misuse statistics published

Public Health England & Department of Health  | May 2018 |Adult substance misuse statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS)

alcohol-alcoholic-drunk-52507

The report presents statistics submitted by services delivering structured substance misuse interventions. These services are vital components of local authority treatment and recovery systems and the interventions they deliver can improve the lives of individuals, the life chances of their children and the stability of their communities. They also have a significant impact in reducing drug and alcohol-related ill health and death, the spread of blood-borne viruses and in reducing crime. The harmful effects of alcohol and drugs are greater in poorer communities and effective treatment services can play an important role in addressing these inequalities (Public Health England & Department of Health).

The full report can be downloaded here 

The hardest hit: addressing the crisis in alcohol treatment services.

Alcohol Concern & Alcohol Research UK|May 2018 |The hardest hit: Addressing the crisis in alcohol treatment services

The report highlights how severe funding cuts, rapid re-tendering cycles, loss of qualified staff and lack of political support are impacting on some of the most vulnerable people in society. It also highlights the  need for action to ensure that treatment services do not enter a cycle of disinvestment, staff depletion, and reduced capacity.

alcohol concern
Image source: alcoholconcern.org

Key findings from the report show:

  • Only 12% of respondents felt that resources were sufficient in their area;
  • Respondents reported cuts of between 10% and 58%, with one treatment provider saying local areas were ‘paring back to a skeleton service’;
  • 59% of respondents felt that aspects of services in their area had worsened in the last three years, with particular threats to community detox and residential rehabilitation facilities;
  • 62% of respondents said that in their area appropriate care is not available for people with both a mental health and an alcohol problem, with many told they must resolve their alcohol problems before they can access mental health services;
  • Only 7% described the quality of engagement between JobCentre Plus and local alcohol services as ‘good’.

To address the issue, the report sets out several key recommendations, including:

  • The Government must develop and implement a National Alcohol Strategy, with treatment at the heart of a broader suite of interventions to reduce alcohol harm.
  • The Government must urgently plug the gap in treatment funding and reduce health inequalities arising from local funding structures. The report contains recommendations for how this might work.
  • There must be a national review of commissioning of alcohol services, and the balance of staffing in the alcohol field.

    Source: Alcohol Concern 

A press release can be read here

The full report is available from Alcohol Concern