Drinkers in Devon are being encouraged to make a pledge to give up alcohol for a month in January.
Devon County Council and NHS Devon have given their support to the campaign, being run by Alcohol Concern, which this year focuses on the theme: ‘it’s time to talk about drinking’.
As part of its campaign, Alcohol Concern is challenging people to have all kinds of conversations about the health risks, social problems, stigmas and taboos associated with talking about the dangers of alcohol.
It also challenges people to give up alcohol for a month in January. From alcohol awareness week, people will be able to sign up either as an individual or a team to give up drinking for a month, and to pledge money or get sponsored to motivate them to stick at the challenge.
Thousands of people in Devon are regularly drinking at dangerous levels, with more than 18,000 people in the county having an alcohol dependency and over 2,500 people in the county putting their health at risk by drinking significantly more than the recommend limit.
In 2011/12, 8% of hospital admissions in Devon were related to alcohol consumption.
Dr Virginia Pearson, director of public health at NHS Devon, said: “Alcohol is one of the leading causes of health problems in Devon.
“It’s so easy for people to get into a routine of regular drinking without realising they may be putting their own health at risk.
“Having an alcohol free month is a really good way to break the routine, and will have positive health benefits, especially for those who are drinking over the recommended amount.
“It’s also important to talk about the impact of alcohol with friends, family or, if necessary, an independent helpline. Having these conversations at an earlier stage could prevent problems further down the line.”
And in her annual report released today, Chief Medical Officer Prof Dame Sally Davies has highlighted the rise in liver-disease deaths in the under-65s - up 20% in a decade.
Councillor Andrea Davis, Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing and chairman of the Shadow Devon Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “Alcohol misuse in Devon contributes to increased hospital admissions, early death, crime and disorder, domestic violence, and health and social inequalities.
“From April next year the County Council will be responsible for the health of communities in Devon. Evidence and public consultation tells us that alcohol is one of the health issues we need to address, and is one of our main priorities in our health and wellbeing strategy for Devon.”
Anyone who would like more information about alcohol awareness week can visit http://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/campaign/alcohol-awareness-week
Or for advice and guidance about alcohol, visit http://www.addaction.org.uk/