The research priority for 2016-17 is treatment and recovery today. Proposals are sought that seek to capture the nature of changes within the alcohol services sector and aim to produce findings that can have a positive impact on policy and or practice. Applicants must read both the Alcohol Research UK Research Strategy and the appropriate Guide for Applicants documents before developing a submission. See here for further details.
Alcohol Research UK are also offering to match fund up to three studentships to enable research in the alcohol field leading to a PhD. The university applying must be willing to match fund or have an offer of match funding (i.e. at least £10,000 per annum for three years) from an appropriate organisation, such as the ESRC, before they can apply. Deadline for applications is 29 November 2016 - further details here.
The Home Office has written to Local Authorities inviting them to apply to take part in the second round of the Local Alcohol Action Area (LAAA) project. Up to 40 areas in England and Wales may be chosen to receive support from 'central government and, where appropriate, the alcohol industry' - see the LAAA round 2 prospectus here [pdf].
The second round was announced earlier this year in the Government’s Modern Crime Prevention Strategy which emphasised local partnership approaches, particularly relating to initiatives to reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder. Local areas applying will be required to 'tackle one or more of a core set of challenges focused on preventing crime and disorder in the night time economy' that include:
Selected alcohol events and opportunities forthcoming in 2016/17:
Last Chance! Reducing alcohol consumption: guidelines, local government & digital tech
On Wednesday 12 October 16:30 – 19:30 in London, a UCL led event 'Reducing alcohol consumption: guidelines, local government and digital technologies' takes place. The free event will bring together researchers and practitioners to discuss the latest research evidence and research evidence gaps. See here for registration.
The BBPA says it has worked alongside Drinkaware and National Pubwatch to create the campaign, which "aims to support staff in upholding these laws and ensuring a safe and sociable drinking environment".
However the extent to which posters can change the behaviour of either bar servers or customers is uncertain; indeed posters designed to promote responsible drinking have been shown to potentially have the opposite intended effect.
Welsh Government attempts to set a minimum 50p per unit (MUP) have been blocked by Westminster in a move criticised by Doctors - BBC News. MPs refused to devolve pricing powers to the Welsh Government who would seek to stop alcohol being sold "cheaper than water".
The growing number of older people being treated for alcohol dependence is 'all over us like a rash', according to an article in The Huffington Post. The number of people in England aged over 60 being treated for alcohol dependence rose 38% between 2009/10 to 2013/14 as 'the ‘Baby Boomer’ Generation continue with hedonistic lifestyles into their later years'.
Alcohol Policy in Scotland and Ireland: European Trailblazers or Celtic Fringes?
Last month Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) released a briefing exploring alcohol policy in Scotland and Ireland. The briefing follows an event at which several speakers considered the positions of the two countries; some of the key points made are described below.
Clare Beeston of NHS Health Scotland provided a review of MESAS (Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy) which had used a Theory of Change (TOC) model to account for changes in the levels of Scotland's alcohol consumption and harm. A downward trend in consumption up until 2012 was driven by the heaviest drinkers and an increase in the rate of abstinence in young adults. Alcohol-related mortality rates though rose rapidly in the early 2000s, then fell in the middle of the decade. Mortality rates have been consistently highest amongst adults aged 55-64 and were eight times higher in the 10% most deprived than in the least deprived areas in 2014.
Supermarket and other off-trade beer sales have overtaken pub and on-trade sales for the first time, signalling the continued shift in the nation's alcohol purchasing.
Figures released by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) show that of the 44m hectolitres (7.74bn pints) of beer sold during 2015 in the UK, 51% was sold by the off-trade, mostly through supermarkets.
A 12-month feasibility study of the Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring Requirement in four London boroughs has offered useful insights to inform the expansion of the scheme, and contributes to awareness about the use of sobriety orders and the technology that underpin them in a UK context.
Modern preventive interventions to reduce young people’s drinking rely heavily on correcting misperceptions that other similar youngsters drink more, but among 2611 students recruited from 122 UK universities, no reliable impacts were found. Was it just that these interventions are generally ineffective, or is the UK university context particularly unfriendly to moderation messages?
The World Health Organization (WHO) have released a document reviewing the evidence on preventing harm caused by alcohol use in pregnancy, reviewing a range of case studies across member states in the European region.
The report identifies that a large proportion of women across Europe drink alcohol following an upward trend over time. As such, the potential harm to the fetus caused by drinking in pregnancy is a public health concern, particularly as almost half of all pregnancies are unplanned and therefore at higher risk from inadvertent alcohol exposure. Risks from alcohol exposure in pregnancy include miscarriage, preterm birth and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
Results from the 2015 British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey have been released, identifying public viewpoints towards key alcohol policy areas such as minimum pricing, drink driving and advertising regulation.
Commissioned by Public Health England, the results indicate the highly contested issue of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) is currently supported by 52% of adults in Britain, with 25% against it. Although previous BSA surveys have not asked these questions, a somewhat similar 2011 YouGov survey found 47% were in favour of MUP with 44% against, suggesting an increase in public support - or perhaps at least a decrease in opposition.
The national charity says the aim of AAW is 'to get people thinking about alcohol – how it affects us as individuals, families, communities and society as a whole', and is often used by organisations or services to reach out to service users, the public or launch new findings. Social media has also played an increasing role, with #AAW2016 as the Twitter 'hashtag'.
Korsakoff’s syndrome belongs in a spectrum of disorders categorised as alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD). It is a severe memory disorder associated with excessive, long-term alcohol misuse, and results in the loss of specific brain functions due to the lack of vitamin B1 or thiamine. Post-mortem studies suggest that Korsakoff’s occurs in about 2 per cent of the population and 12.5 per cent of dependent drinkers.