‘Little Changes, Big Difference’ ……How I became a Liverpool Alcohol Workplace Champion!
The best thing about January is the opportunity it presents to refresh our lives. The New year is a blank slate on which to draw a brighter picture and just a few little changes will result in a healthier lifestyle.
A little voice in my head, said that something had to change this year. This happened last week when I had to put out the festive recycling.
The number of bottles going chink, clink into the bin caused me to cushion the noise in case any the neighbours heard.
Then, I did the count and started to justify all the booze bottles….well we did have guests over but….
That little voice though, was brought about by a little voice from the radio ‘Your drinking and you’…an alcohol awareness campaign for a dry month. Coupled with this, an email arrived from LCVS and Community Health requesting my presence at a Liverpool Alcohol Workplace Champions Course. The diary was free so I opted for the full days training and wellbeing reboot.
On arrival, the course leaders were experts in their field, that’s training not drinking! Like me, they were part of the ‘Liverpool Health and Culture’ programme which aims to fine tune our health for a happier and healthier life, feeling more positive and energetic.
We were helped to consider our role, as ‘Alcohol Champions in the Workplace’ by
…. reviewing the topic of alcohol and the harm it can cause;
….. be able to plan an alcohol workplace event/campaign with the resources available to support it;
….. to be confident to provide alcohol awareness briefings;
….. plan a role as an alcohol champion.
Well, Why run an Alcohol Champions course in Liverpool?
The reasons were simple….and the Liverpool picture does not look good….15% drink above the recommended guidelines; over 11,000 (6%) residents drink at high risk levels; 80 residents die each year in Liverpool from an alcohol specific condition; the relationship between poverty and the harm caused by alcohol is very significant; alcohol related crimes are higher in Liverpool than the rest of the North West and in a year (2011-2012) 3,726 crimes and 78 sexual crimes were linked to alcohol.
Many of us take risks with our health- it’s a normal part of human behaviour. Many risky behaviours meet other needs eg smoking reduces stress, chocolate is a comfort, alcohol increases confidence.
However, our views of risk differ because of knowledge, past experience, beliefs and attitudes.
I was then given the facts and figures about alcohol in the workplace.
A third of employees had attended work with a hangover (32%), with 10% doing it more than once a month with 1 in 4 saying their drinking affected their work activity (doing the minimum). But, the problems are experienced at all levels of hierarchy with 43% in managerial and professional occupations exceeding the drinking limits compared to 31% in routine/manual These are staggering figures but if you recognise any of these in your workplace, then you too are an Alcohol Champion and can promote an awareness of alcohol and guide your organisation to the right Alcohol Policy procedures and helplines.
Many years ago, I remember alcohol only available in pubs, drinks a lower strength, and expensive with drunkenness frowned upon and drink driving was legal….how times have changed!!!!
The statistics show that we are drinking more at home, it’s a growing trend, more women are drinking at home and drink is cheaper.
The effects of alcohol are all too clear and I need not say, with long term effects having detrimental consequences upon us physically, socially, emotionally, sexually and societal.
The message I would like to end with is that, men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units a day and women 2-3 units a day.
Regularly means this amount every day or most days. Do, have alcohol free days every week and at best an alcohol free childhood. Pregnant women should avoid alcohol, particularly in the first three months.
Finally, there is no safe way to calculate drinking when you drive. Don’t drink and drive!
It’s not easy to pour a whole day into one paragraph but one message was clear and it was the message about understanding ‘units’. The way I interpret it is by rule of hand ………based on a half beer glass.
A finger width was approximately one spirit unit, wine your little finger length and beer a thumb length.
Statistically, I hope that for every eight people who have read this article about drinking, one will reduce their drinking to a lower risk level.
‘What’s Yours?’ Liverpool’s alcohol awareness website.. http://www.whatsyours-Liverpool.nhs.uk
Take a simple survey at http://www.downyourdrink.org.uk
Advice Line 0800 917 8282