Back to News Published: 19 June 2024

Alcohol Awareness Week

What is Alcohol Awareness Week?

Alcohol Awareness Week 2024 runs 1-7 July and is organised by Alcohol Change UK. In their words: “it’s a chance for the UK to get thinking about drinking.” 

The theme this year is ‘understanding alcohol harm’. And the organisers hope to spark a national conversation about the role of alcohol in society. The campaign highlights how we are bombarded by messages about drinking. Social cues to drink are everywhere. From sports events, to billboards on public transport, and jokey memes on social media. Whether we’re commiserating, coping or celebrating.

The summer months are here, and with them, lots of social cues to drink. Barbecues, festivals, warm weekend days – all of these events bring an expectation to drink.

But how much do you want to drink in July and August? We all know that cutting down the amount we drink is better for us. But sometimes it can feel like you’re expected to accept beer at a barbecue. 

If you want to make a change, how can you shift your relationship with alcohol this summer?

What do the stats show about alcohol consumption?

We’re steadily becoming a nation that drinks less often. Awareness campaigns, plus an increase in non-alcoholic options, have had positive effects. However, alcohol misuse still has enormous negative consequences, both for individuals and for society. It’s estimated to cost the UK economy £27bn each year!

And some numbers are going in the wrong direction. For example, admissions to hospital for alcohol-related illness or injury increased by over 100,000 admissions in 10 years (2012-22). Furthermore, the alcohol-specific death rate increased by 5.5 people per 100,000 population. Alcohol-related healthcare costs the NHS £4.9bn a year.

And a recent study estimates the cost of alcohol to the criminal justice system at £14.6bn, with more than 4 million alcohol-related crimes.

Safer drinking habits this summer

Summer time can increase the risks of drinking alcohol. 

Hot weather means it’s much easier to become dehydrated or suffer the effects of heat stroke. And drinking impairs your judgement. This increases the risk of accidents when swimming, riding a bike or walking. In addition, you’re at risk of binge-drinking as daytime social events extend into the lighter evenings.

The good news is, moderating how much you drink has instant positive effects! Plus, others around you may follow suit.

Change your personal drinking habits this summer by:

  • Staying hydrated. Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones.
  • Pairing alcoholic drinks with food, to slow down the speed your body absorbs alcohol.
  • Staying in the shade during the midday heat. Get under cover between 11am – 2pm, to reduce the risk of heat stroke, overheating or dehydration.
  • Bringing non-alcoholic drinks – others will thank you too!

If you’re hosting an event, you get to create an environment where guests can choose how much alcohol to drink by:

  • Providing plenty of tasty non-alcoholic options. Include zero alcohol versions of drinks that are usually popular with your guests.
  • Placing the non-alcoholic drinks somewhere easy to see and reach.
  • Offering non-alcoholic drinks first.
  • Providing food.
  • Providing shade.
  • Shifting the focus away from alcohol, with activities such as sport, games or music.
  • Choosing the non-alcoholic option yourself!

If you’d like to experiment with alternatives to drinking-focused events, why not suggest a different place to socialise? You can:

  • Meet up for an outdoor activity such as swimming at an open air lido, pool or beach.
  • Visit a local landmark or event.
  • Head out to explore some of Essex’s beautiful walking spots.
  • Or meet up in your local park for a kick about, wander or dog walk.

We’re here to support you

If you’d like help to reduce your drinking, we can offer support

Don’t forget that you can track the number of drinks you have via our partner app, Amara. It’s free to download and gives you access to trackers and articles on lifestyle changes. Including tasty recipes for meals and mocktails, as well as wellbeing-friendly ways to enjoy the summer sunshine!

If you’re unsure which of our services is right for you, assessment to see how we can help.