· Peer Pressure: This can be both direct or indirect pressure from peers coercing us to consume alcohol. In 2019 Drinkaware published research stating that 1/3 of UK drinkers drank more than intended because they were encouraged to by others. Taking part in rounds, not wanting to refuse a drink bought by a friend and/or having your drink topped up without being asked are all examples of how someone can experience peer pressure. For some people, feeling accepted and being part of a group is important and therefore the need to “fit in” could result in taking part in riskier drinking behaviours, including drinking more than intended. You might want to consider removing yourself from rounds, sipping your drinks to make them last longer or talking to friends about your intentions for the evening before drinking.
· Availability: Alcohol is available to buy from many retail outlets and there are currently no restrictions on when this can be purchased. Providing the retail outlet is open alcohol can be purchased anytime during the day or night. Some retail outlets also allow sales of individual alcoholic drinks to make purchasing alcohol more affordable. Sales of alcohol can also be seen in other venues, such as, at sporting events, in live music venues and in cinemas/theatres. Keeping a record of your alcohol consumption each week can help you stay on track. You can set yourself weekly goals and plan your week ahead.
· Pricing: As with many other grocery items, you can often find promotions down the alcohol isle too. Alcohol promotions often fall in line with celebrations and sporting events in our social calendars such as Christmas, the football season, Wimbledon and summer BBQs. Promotions on alcohol can make alcohol seem more attractive and often mean people buy more than they initially intended. Making alcohol more affordable and having more alcohol at home can encourage increased alcohol consumption. Try not to be tempted and stick to the list!
· Advertising and the Media: For a long time, alcohol was marketed as the necessary component to having a good time. Marketing campaigns saw alcohol sponsoring sports events and many adverts were around attractive individuals enjoying drinks at parties, being more attractive to the opposite sex and having fun. Although direct advertising of alcohol now comes with guidelines, alcohol continues to feature in many TV programmes and in supermarket promotional material. Practising mindful drinking encourages a healthier relationship with alcohol with less consumption.
· Education: Being educated on alcohol related harm and current government guidelines around lower risk drinking is important for all age groups. Yes, we know that excessive alcohol consumption is bad for us, but do we really know how? And how much is too much? Being knowledgeable of alcohol related harm enables you to make informed choices around your drinking behaviours. Nice guidelines currently promote alcohol education in schools to reduce alcohol related harm in adulthood. Downloading apps to track your units and work out calorie equivalents or reading online resources around alcohol and health are great way to get you in the know!
· Culture: Geographically, where we grow up, our parental influences, community and cultural norms all have a significant role in our drinking behaviours. Some studies have shown links between discrimination and increased alcohol use, variations in gender and race/ethnicity and the importance in community cohesion in leading healthy lifestyles.
With both individual and societal factors at play, maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol can be tricky. It might be time to dive in and take a look at your relationship with alcohol. How much of an influence do the above societal factors have on your drinking behaviours? For more information visit www.oneyoulincolnshire.org.uk or sign up for FREE to speak with one of our friendly team of Health Coaches.
Laura Bell, Drink Less Lead
April 7, 2021