From today National Alcohol Awareness Week is in full swing in the Brighton and Hove area.
The week runs annually and this year is taking place from today until the 24th of November.
The campaign is headed by the charity Alcohol Concern but is supported nationally by key groups such as think drink drugs, the AA and the NHS.
Figures suggest that over half the adult population are consuming alcohol at potentially dangerous levels, with 52% of men and 53% of women drinking at hazardous levels regularly.
Campaigners have put this down to people simply misunderstanding their limits and the effects of drinking on their health.
With this in mind, the theme of Alcohol Awareness Week is “conversations about alcohol”, aimed of course at giving people the time to talk about their drinking and providing expert advice to educate the public.
In the Brighton and Hove area this week several events are taking place in order to raise awareness of the issue.
“Don’t bottle it up” at Jubilee Library being one of them; I went down to the event to talk to the team there about the importance of National Alcohol Awareness Week and key services in the Brighton and Hove area that provide support to those in recovery.
On entering the library I was met by friendly, approachable individuals who were more than happy to talk about the event.
Trevor, who works locally with recovery patients pointed out the art adorning the walls and told me that sufferers produced all of the work.
The photographic work was particularly striking and held titles such as “Perception” and “is this the right path?”
Stories were also pinned to the walls, which described tales of homelessness, violence and depression.
Overall, the display was really beautiful and the symbolic photographs seemed to tell their own tale of an Alcohol-induced entrapment.
After Trevor had kindly shown me the display I was able to speak to Judy from Al-Anon, the sister group to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Al-Anon is an anonymous fellowship that reaches out to the partners and families of problem drinkers.
A fact Judy was keen to put across, she told me
“It’s just as hard for the family if your living with someone who’s drinking, an alcoholic, it’s really really hard…you never know what they’re going to do”
When I asked Judy how important it was to educate the public on alcohol awareness, she added
“I think that it’s vital, I think that it’s a big problem in our current society, everyone drinks”
She also added that she believes that Alcohol related problems are very much on the rise.
I then brought up the theme of the week, “conversations about alcohol” and asked who should be having these conversations, Judy responded saying
“I think everyone, it isn’t just young people or old people, anybody can be affected so we should all be thinking about what we’re drinking.”
Turning the conversation, I then focused on the event and its aims.
Judy told me that we would all be surprised about how much we’re drinking and that many of us are unaware that support is so readily available concluding,
“I think things like this help people know what support is there, whether for themselves, for a friend or for the family, so that if they need help they know where to go”
Being young myself, I asked Judy what message she hoped the event would send to younger drinkers, she said
“Well I hope the message it sends is that it is easy to get into drinking problems without realizing it, they can creep up on you and then it’s not easy to stop drinking”
Having thanked Judy for her time, I then went on to talk to a local representative from the organization think drink drugs.
She told me more about the focus of the week, telling me that in Brighton and Hove, the main emphasis was on people’s stories.
This was of course evident in the art display that Trevor had shown me earlier on.
She said “Within the art display we’ve got service users photograph’s…people who’ve been affected by their own drinking and have come into service centers and have lived in a residential rehab.”
She told me that they represented a journey for each patient saying,
“They represent memories and thoughts from their journeys, from being dependent on alcohol through to being recovered”
She voiced that these local service points, such as the Brighton Oasis Project, are essential in order to create positive social relationships with sufferers and their families.
Feeling very much enlightened, I left the event with a free unit measuring cup, a unit calorie counter and a “rethink your drink” educational scratch card as well as an early new years resolution to take part in “dry January” amongst other things.
Words by Lu Wright