MPs and health experts are calling on the Government to get to the bottom of the nation’s drink problem that is ‘inflicting long-lasting harm across all areas of society and family life’, Alcohol Health Alliance UK reports.

A cross-party group of MPs, peers and health professionals, known as The (independent) Commission on Alcohol Harm, warns that despite alcohol being the leading risk-factor for ill health, death and disability among those aged 15 to 49 in England, not enough is being done to tackle the problem.

Evidence submitted to the Commission highlighted the serious impact alcohol harm has on family life with children living with an alcohol dependent parent five times more likely to develop eating disorders, twice as likely to develop alcohol dependence or addiction, and three times as likely to consider suicide.

The Commission was set up to examine the full extent of alcohol harm across the UK and in its final report outlining several recommendations for reducing harm, called on the government to urgently develop a national strategy for alcohol, that should:

  • include targeted measures to support families and protect children from harm, including alcohol-fuelled violence
  • be science-led, adopting the World Health Organisation’s evidence-based recommendations for reducing the harmful use of alcohol including measures on affordability (such as minimum unit pricing in England), restrictions on alcohol advertising and marketing, better information for consumers, advice and treatment for people drinking at hazardous and harmful levels, and action to reduce drink driving.
  • reduce the £3.5bn cost of alcohol to the NHS to relieve pressure on the service and free up capacity to respond to the consequences of COVID-19
  • change the conversation and challenge alcohol’s position in our culture – addressing the stigma around alcohol use disorders, encouraging conversations about drinking and creating space for people to be open about the effects of alcohol on their health and those around them.

Lockdown causes rise in drinking  

The news comes as figures show drinking during lockdown has increased significantly for some.

In a UK survey of more than 2,000 people, Alcohol Change UK discovered that of those surveyed, 19% of people had drunk alcohol as a way to handle stress or anxiety during lockdown.

Parents of under 18-year-olds were more likely to have said that they had done so (30%) than non-parents (17%) and parents of adult children (11%). Of those who drank more heavily during lockdown (nine plus units on each drinking day), 40% said they had drunk as a response to stress or anxiety.

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