Scotland’s battle with the bottle

Posted on 20/11/2013 by

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One in two Scots harmed as a result of someone else’s drinking

More needs to be done to raise awareness about the negative effects of other peoples’ drinking, according to Alcohol Focus Scotland. The charity has published  research which examines for the first time how alcohol impacts on people around the drinker causing stress, distress and disharmony to family members, friends, colleagues and the wider community.

The research found:

  • 1 in 2 people report being harmed as a result of someone else’s drinking
  • 1 in 3 people report having heavy drinkers in their lives
  • Younger people under 35 are four times more likely to report harm from others in public places, such as on the stress or in the workplace
  • Those who know heavy drinkers are more likely to report harm from others in private settings such as at home, or with neighbours or friends
  • Experiencing harm from other people’s drinking is not related to whether the person affected by the harm drinks or not.

Dr Evelyn Gillan, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said:

“Our research shows just how far-reaching alcohol harm is. One in two Scots are affected in some way by other people’s drinking. This can range from feeling uneay at aggressive behaviour on the bus, picking up the slack at work becuase a colleague has called in sick with a hangover, or children living with heavy drinking parents and the strain this inevitably places on family life.

“Many of these problems are not being reported, either because they are simply tolerated or because they are going on behind closed doors. When people began to understand the negative effects of passive smoking, action was taken. It’s time we started to think beyond the individual drinker to consider how we can protect people from the second-hand effects of drinking.

“If we want to reduce the harm that alcohol causes, then we must tackle the widespread availability and promotion of cheap alcohol through measures such as minimum pricing. But we also need to ensure that individuals, families, workplaces and communities who are being negatively affected by other people’s drinking, receive the support they require.”

Sam Anderson, Director at The Junction, a young people’s health and wellbeing project in North Edinburgh which took part in the research said:

“Young people are often identified as one of the groups who are ‘problem drinkers’. However, our work with young people shows us that they are often negatively affected by someone else’s drinking. That could be a parent, a friend, or a stranger in the street. This can cause stress, worry and in more extreme cases, depression, panic attacks and self-harm. This is a big issue and more needs to be done to support young people who are being negatively affected. The Junction has recently launched a new pilot project funded by Edinburgh ADP which will support young people in this situation in the north Edinburgh area.”

Police Officer Geraldine Richardson, who participated in the research, added:

“I often see neighbours being put under stress by someone who has had too much to drink. For example, a drunk person can’t get their key in the lock so they buzz every flat or bang on the doors. This can be particularly distressing for older people. They are just at home minding their own business and they’re being disturbed by someone who has been drinking.

“People can struggle to get up for work as they’ve had to endure music, shouting and partying all through the night. It can lead to poor relationships with neighbours. Police Scotland will do what it can to help people keep safe in their own homes.”

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