The impact of alcohol on families

Many health experts are now saying that the UK has a problem with alcohol. They claim alcohol is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability for people aged 15-49, and the fifth biggest threat to health for all ages of people.

There are estimated to be around 600,000 people in the UK in need of specialist support for alcohol, but the number receiving treatment is closer to only 100,000.

Over 220,000 children are currently living with an alcohol-dependent adult in England and the number living with an adult who drinks harmfully is much higher.

Alcohol Awareness Week runs 13-19 November and this year its focus is alcohol and families. Harmful drinking can cause significant issues, not only for the alcohol user, but also members of their family in the form of health problems, financial worries, relationship breakdown and parenting difficulties.

Alcohol Concern is a charity which seeks to reduce the harm alcohol causes by helping people with information, advice and support, and through funding research into alcohol-related harm. It established Alcohol Awareness Week to:

  • Encourage conversations about alcohol abuse
  • Signpost those who need help to the support they need
  • Call for change

Over 800 local authorities, charities and services are taking part in Alcohol Awareness Week, making 2017 its biggest year.

If you’re concerned that you might be drinking too much, there are small behavioural changes you can make to cut back:

  • Keep a drinks diary to keep track of how much you’re consuming
  • Avoid drinking in rounds
  • Take more alcohol-free days
  • Do more activities that don’t involve alcohol

If you would like to keep track of your drinking, and get advice and tips for cutting down, download the Dry January and Beyond app, which available for Apple and Android devices.

For further support:

  • Talk to your GP for confidential advice
  • If you think you and/or someone you know may be drinking too much, contact (England) on or (Wales) on
  • Al-Anon provides support to anyone whose life is, or has been, affected by someone else’s drinking
  • You can find more support services through Adfam