Two of the county’s police and health teams are going the extra mile for their alcohol awareness campaigning by taking a month-long break from booze.
Alcohol Concern’s Dry January campaign encourages people to take a month off alcohol after the indulgences of the Christmas holidays. It’s based on research which shows that abstaining from alcohol can help people re-evaluate their drinking in the long term.
In a show of support, Suffolk Constabulary’s night time economy team – who have been directly involved in supporting many revellers over the busy festive period – and Suffolk’s Public Health team are preparing to take on the challenge.
Alcohol Concern’s ‘alcohol harm map’, released in autumn 2014, shows that 20% of Suffolk people are drinking too much, accounting for 266 deaths in 2012 and almost 114,000 hospital admissions as a result of alcohol consumption from 2012/13.
Councillor Andrew Reid, Suffolk’s Alcohol Strategy Group chair, said: “Dry January is a great opportunity for people to consider their relationship with alcohol, thinking about the many associated benefits of taking a break, including saving money, losing weight and feeling energised.
“It’s not about never drinking again; it’s an opportunity for people to reflect on their drinking patterns and to give their body a break from alcohol.
“With the start of a new year, many people make healthy resolutions; where better to start, post-festive season, than an alcohol-free month to kick start 2015.”
Police Sergeant Joanne Towell from the night time economy team, said: “Together with my colleagues I’m participating in Dry January. Our team has first-hand experience of helping people who have overindulged in the past few weeks, some of whom have spent a night in custody while sobering up, or even in A&E.
“You could say we’ve seen the damaging side of alcohol, and this is just one incentive to get involved in Dry January.”
Earlier this year, Suffolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board unveiled a countywide action plan, bringing together the police, NHS, voluntary organisations, local councils and alcohol industry to tackle the harmful aspects of alcohol in Suffolk.
The plan identifies emerging trends such as ‘pre-loading’ – drinking to excess before a night out – and vulnerable older people drinking behind closed doors, with an emphasis on hidden harm such as domestic violence as a result of alcohol consumption.
To sign up for Alcohol Concern’s Dry January and register for tips and tools to make the most of the month, people should visit www.dryjanuary.org.uk. For the local Suffolk campaign, visit www.healthysuffolk.org.uk/home/healthy-drinking
For the first time, Public Health England is supporting Dry January, providing extensive support to people via social media and the dedicated website.