Its Alcohol Awareness Week 19-25 November. Naturally it’s a time to celebrate the work being done to help those who have been affected by alcohol, however its also a time to review service delivery and that’s where it all becomes rather sad….
Alcohol services are under threat, now that’s nothing new but to learn that alcohol services are being decommissioned in a time of social outcry about binge drinking and minimum pricing seems ludicrous.
For every eight people who ask for advice about their drinking, one person will significantly reduce their intake to below safe levels. Now, surely that means these local services are effective? they are helping to identify alcohol issues and helping people to help themselves.
I know residential treatment providers, like ourselves are highlighting the negative impact of austerity measures that are affecting public health but these small services, sometimes based in local pharmacies, that are meeting NICE guidelines 2010 in screening and offering brief interventions to assist in preventing harmful drinking, are now falling foul of measures that counter-intuitive to the health of our communities.
This is all at a time when reports are claiming that professionals are more than ever likely to develop an alcohol problem and that alcohol use in Wales cost the NHS £70million a year. It’s time to stop the decline and take an opportunity this Alcohol Awareness Week to question if this is an austerity measure too far and maybe question our local politicians, Police Commissioners, Health and Wellbeing Boards etc why they are not valuing the work that can have such an impact on our communities functioning in offending and criminality and also health and social welfare.