A mobile phone app which shows how alcohol can age you and a new social website where people can share advice on safe drinking habits are just some of the initiatives from Bath & North East Somerset Council and NHS BANES during Alcohol Awareness Week 2012 (19-25 November).
The theme of this year's national campaign is: 'It's Time to Talk about Drinking'. The week aims to encourage people to have all kinds of conversations on the health risks, social problems, stigmas and the taboos associated with talking about the dangers of alcohol.
New for this year's week of activities and promotions is an app being piloted to show the ageing effects of alcohol. The software gives a realistic image of how drinkers may look in years to come! When you add a picture of your face the technology ages your face along a timeline according to the amount of alcohol consumed.
Alcohol Awareness Week also sees the launch of a trial Healthwatch website (www.healthwatchbathandnortheastsomerset.co.uk) – aimed at encouraging a cyberspace conversation about alcohol and providing information about alcohol awareness and local services. Visitors can join the discussion on Facebook, Twitter and on the site's forum. They can answer polls via website and social media. There is also an alcohol unit calculator so you can work out how much you've had to drink.
Councillor David Dixon (Lib-Dem, Oldfield), Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: "When Healthwatch comes fully on line it will be all about your feedback and your opinions. That's why we are trialling this approach to make it so easy to get in touch. You can join the discussion on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, answer quick and easy polls and contribute to the many forum discussions.
"Many people drink alcohol responsibly but alcohol-related harm is still a serious concern for some. Bath & North East Somerset Council wants to help everyone have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. We're working with NHS BANES and other partners to give out information and advice and raise awareness of some of the issues surrounding alcohol use and encourage people to make sensible, positive choices about their alcohol consumption."
Events happening throughout the week include – a flash mob alcohol harm reduction drama demo at Bath University and Bath Spa University, and the 'Toilet Times' college, schools and universities campaign. There is also a DHI (Developing Health and Independence) open morning on 23 November, 9am-1pm, at The Beehive, Bath, for anyone interested in learning more about responsible alcohol use and how to access the services available locally. For more details call: 01225 329411.
Ian Orpen, Chair of the Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "Alcohol related admissions to the Royal United Hospital have risen by 57% over recent years. We want people to think about their drinking, because drinking less now can make a big difference to your health later on. The health harms from alcohol are not obvious when you are young but regularly drinking over the recommended limits will build up problems for later life. The more you drink the greater the chances of suffering from a range of conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, cancer of the mouth, heart disease, liver disease and breast cancer."
A street team of volunteers from Bath Spa University who are studying health promotion will also be out and about visiting different locations including Midsomer Norton, Radstock, Keynsham and Bath to hand out alcohol calculators and other information. Alcohol Awareness stands will be at many of the supermarket entrances during the week – where you can pick up more info.
Simple actions everyone can take if you want to cut down on your drinking:
- Swapping every second or third drink for a non-alcoholic one (water or soft drinks) is easy to do.
- Choose smaller drink measures – most pubs or bars now serve smaller sizes.
- Limit rounds – remember the pace quickens with the fastest drinker!
- Eat a meal to line your stomach before you drink.
- Do something different – go to the cinema or out for something to eat.