Is it really Wet February? Well, that’s what I’ve heard it being called following Dry January, the month when people banish booze. You can’t help but wonder, are people just going to go on a big binge now, or actually maintain the positive behaviour change of reducing the amount of alcohol guzzled. Either way, we know people have their habits. There’s the couples that get home and share a bottle a night. It’s just a bottle right? You know, we’re not getting paralytic and need it to unwind after a hard day in the office… Then there are city folk who entertain with a whiskey or two at lunch and before heading home. It’s just good business isn’t it? And then there are the ones who go all out on the weekend and take a beer scooter home. It’s a one-off release? There’s a few more in the mix, but all in all, booze has its way in our culture.
So, why am I looking at our habits? Because in January 2016 the government released new guidelines about drinking. Does it affect everyone? Yes. These guidelines have been developed to inform the public about the health risks of different levels and patterns of drinking, and there’s a focus on regular drinking, single drinking and drinking in pregnancy.
On regular drinking, guidance for both men and women state that you shouldn’t drink more than 14 units per week, to keep health risks low. If you have one or two heavy drinking sessions, you increase your risk of death from long-term illnesses and from accidents and injuries. Generally, the risk of developing Illnesses, which include mouth, throat and breast cancers, increases with any amount you drink on a regular basis. So, you should have several drink-free days each week.
Guidance is also given for men and women who wish to keep their short-term health risks from a single drinking occasion to a low. You can reduce risks by limiting the amount you drink, drink more slowly and with food and alternating with water, avoiding dodgy places and activities, making sure you have friends around, and making sure you can get home safely. As well as the risk of accident and injury, drinking alcohol regularly is linked to long-term risks such as heart disease, cancer, liver disease and epilepsy.
And on pregnancy and drinking, guidelines state it’s best to not drink alcohol at all as it can lead to long-term harm to the baby.
The thing is, how aware are the public of these guidelines? Do they know what 14 units look like? Do they know what a unit is? We can talk about cancer and other risks. But are there other things that will make people stop and think? Who knew a pint of lager with 4% ABV can contain 180 calories, which is basically a slice of pizza.
There’s lots to think about, and we want to support alcohol awareness and encourage healthy lifestyles. If you’re a local authority or alcohol and substance misuse team, and you’re looking for a marketing and design agency that can help you deliver an awareness campaign, get in touch!
We’ve been having a nosey at awareness ads that we think are good. Whilst many don’t focus on long-term health risks, they do make people stop and think about their drinking behaviour and the way they wind up. You may remember these…