Alcohol misuse is a major issue in the UK and the Government’s Alcohol Strategy claims alcohol-related harm is now estimated to cost our society around £21 billion annually. This is broken down as:

  • NHS costs, at about £3.5 billion per year (at 2009–10 costs)
  • Alcohol-related crime, at £11 billion per year (at 2010–11 costs)
  • Lost productivity due to alcohol, at about £7.3 billion per year (at 2009–10 costs, UK estimate)

This does not include any estimate for the economic costs of alcohol misuse to families and social networks. Since the 1950’s the average annual consumption of adults in the UK has more than doubled with many more people engaging in ‘risky’ drinking behaviour or binge drinking as it is commonly known.

The Horsham District Community Safety Partnership (HDCSP) has teamed up with the Health and Wellbeing Partnership and both have alcohol and drug related harm as a key priority for 2015/16 and through a targeted action plan steps are being taken to fight back against this trend. Perhaps one of the most significant developments has been the appointment of a new Alcohol Wellbeing Advisor in the health and wellbeing team at Horsham District Council.

This role was created to help the people of Horsham District, with a focus on local people who have alcohol related problems but aren't able or do not want to enter the mainstream substance misuse services (which are often heavily drug focused), but are drinking at increasing and higher risk levels. This position was filled in October 2014 and provides free and confidential, one-to-one motivational interviewing based sessions that have a focus on harm reduction, as well as giving ongoing support for the individual to reach their alcohol goals (e.g. reducing consumption, abstaining) for up to a period of 12 weeks. As well as this it also helps people by providing an advocacy service, making referrals to specialist alcohol services if required and promoting local and national alcohol interventions as well as wider Wellbeing issues.

Dan Barritt, Health and Wellbeing Manager, said:

"This role has been created to help the people of Horsham District, with a focus on local people who are experiencing difficulties with alcohol and would like to make a change to their drinking. Alcohol is something that is widely consumed and widely seen in our society, but perhaps we are not all as clued in about the effects of alcohol as we think we are. With alcohol being the social lubricant that it is, people often look at the positives of it and seem to ignore the negative impacts that it can have on the people who drink too much, or too often."