By Barney Stone and Eleanor Magill
A range of initiatives to support Alcohol Awareness Week were launched across Hackney and Tower Hamlets this week
Beginning November 11, over 3,000 GP surgeries, pharmacies, local authorities, charities and other community groups across the UK have come together to get people thinking about their drinking.
Hackney Recovery Service and Young Hackney launched promotional activities to encourage residents to scrutinise their drinking habits.
In alliance with local health partners, ‘awareness stalls’ have been set up across the borough to tackle misconceptions regarding alcohol abuse, and residents are being advised to complete an online ‘alcohol test’ to assess the safety of their personal consumption.
Between 2017-2018, the alcohol-specific mortality rate in Hackney was significantly higher than for London.
Currently, 70 per cent of residents who classify their drinking habits as moderate fall in the ‘high risk’ category, whilst a third of Hackney adults are estimated to drink above the low-risk limit (14 units a week).
A spokesperson for Hackney told Eastlondonlines: “We hope by supporting Alcohol Awareness Week, Hackney Council and partners will help to increase awareness of alcohol for anyone who lives, works and visits Hackney, including how much they are drinking, the risks associated with alcohol and where they can go to get support”.
According to a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for Hackney, most people who require treatment are not registered with the treatment services, with rates of unmet need as high as 83 per cent for alcohol dependence.
The report continued: “Behaviour change campaigns have not been found to have a significant effect on reducing alcohol-related harm”.
The Recovery Service, provided by the Westminster Drug Project, and in partnership with local aid programmes, is free and open to all residents in Hackney over the age of 18. The service provides bespoke recovery plans based on an individuals’ need following a thorough assessment.
Young Hackney offers a non-judgemental and non-stigmatising substance misuse service for young people aged 8 to 25. It includes the provision of evidence-based, age-appropriate, impartial and specialist information and advice in schools.
Tower Hamlets council is running an information stall at Idea store in Whitechapel, offering support, and to raise awareness of alcohol harm in the community.
According to the NHS substance misuse strategy (2016-2019), 29% of Tower Hamlets residents abstain from drinking, compared to the 17% national average. However, the borough also has the 8th highest rate of alcohol related crime in London.
Campaigns such as Alcohol Awareness Week, and a continued commitment to tackling substance misuse in the borough, alcohol-related crime and hospital admittances have been on the decrease since 2011.
However, hospital admittances still remain above the London average with a rate of 562 per 100,000 higher in comparison to the rate of 521 across London according to NHS figures.
Tower Hamlets have also commissioned RESET, an integrated service which provides drug and alcohol support for Tower Hamlets residents; rehabilitation services, alcohol detoxification, healthcare assessments and counselling.