Help is at hand if alcohol affects relationships

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Somerset County Council is joining organisations across the UK to raise awareness of the ways in which alcohol can affect people and their relationships.

In support of this year’s Alcohol Awareness week, 15 – 21 November, Somerset County Council is highlighting the impact that alcohol can have on relationships – encouraging people to talk and be prepared to listen about the way drinking is affecting them and those around them – and to consider making some changes for a healthier and happier life.

Professor Trudi Grant, Somerset Director of Public Health said: “Many people drink alcohol for a variety of ever-changing reasons, including to relax, socialise, de-stress, have fun, relieve boredom, deal with feelings of loneliness and to try and cope with or avoid problems.

“But, drinking too much and too often can cause or exacerbate problems with your physical and mental health, including damaging relationships with your loved ones. Alcohol Awareness Week is an opportunity to reflect on your (or someone you know) drinking habits and the impact it has on your health and your family.”

Drinking can heighten family tensions, get in the way of clear communication, and lead to being less present for others – including children.

If a loved one is drinking heavily, it can cause huge worry. There is also a real risk of someone’s drinking causing conflict, with alcohol being a factor in many cases of child neglect and domestic abuse.

Alcohol Awareness Week provides an important opportunity for people to:

  • Talk about the issues around alcohol and its effects on their physical and mental health and relationships, helping them to make more informed choices about drinking.
  • Listen to others around them, properly, and with curiosity, to understand how their behaviours may be affecting their friends and those they love.
  • Realise that it’s common to develop a bit of a drinking problem, and it’s possible to take back control.
  • Call for action to help those most in need, including the 200,000 UK children living with an alcohol-dependent parent or carer.
  • To find out where they can access a bit of extra support if they are struggling to take control of their drinking on their own.

Somerset resident Steve developed dependency on alcohol over many years. He could no longer trust himself to get through a day’s work without needing a drink. He tried periods of being sober but was never able to conquer it until he was referred to SDAS (Somerset Drug & Alcohol Service) by his GP.

Since stopping drinking, Steve’s ability to enjoy his life is now less clouded by alcohol, and he’s seen improvements in his mental health.

“I would encourage others to reach out to Turning Point (service provider for Somerset Drugs and Alcohol Service), it’s about being honest with yourself and recognising you have a problem. I often got given advice but would be thinking ‘oh I don’t really need this’, having honesty with yourself is the only way to move forward.”

Delivered by the charity Turning Point, SDAS provides free and confidential support for people wanting to make changes to their relationship with alcohol. For support speak to your GP, call SDAS 0300 303 8788 or visit www.turning-point.co.uk/SDAS.

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