Simon Antrobus' blog

Simon Antrobus

Simon Antrobus

Chief Executive of Addaction.



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Posted: Mon 09th Jan 2012 16:15

A good number of people in this country drink responsibly. Some don’t drink at all.

However, Andrew Miler and the Science and Technology Committee has raised a timely and crucial point, in suggesting that we should all have at least two days a week completely clear of alcohol. Far too many of us have a daily relationship with alcohol and, as the committee has said, we should be taking steps to reduce our intake.

There are plenty of reasons for us, as a country, to do this. Alcohol is not a harmless substance, and as much as it plays a social role for many of us, it also has a negative impact on society. It impacts on on the police, on hospital A and E departments, and it has a great impact on our health as a nation.

It also has a great effect on our children. Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, comparing parents' attitudes to alcohol with their children's, found that even moderate drinking shaped the way our children went on to view alcohol. And it found that our children weren't being taught to recognise the impact drinking has on their health. To put this last point into context, the number of young women in the UK who are presenting with liver damage is growing at a considerable rate.

And there is a much sharper end to all of this, too. If your parent has a problem with alcohol, you - as a child - are far more likely to develop your own alcohol problem later in life. Up to seven times more likely, in fact. It's a problem we regularly deal with at Addaction.

So. I welcome the new guidelines suggested today. The UK's relationship with alcohol changes and so it's one that needs to be regularly reviewed. But, if we are to really address the grip alcohol has on the UK today we must be prepared to go further where necessary. Those of us who can, need to take personal responsibility for our own health and wellbeing and be frank about how much we actually drink. But this needs to be linked to helping some parents to understand the unintended consequences of drinking to excess, and to tackle any problems they - as a family - may be having.