Many people assume that alcohol misuse is only a personal problem for the small percentage of addicts. It is also assumed that problem drinkers are street drinkers, rough sleepers or those prone to committing public violence. But harmful drinking and bingeing has risen consistently over the decades across the UK's cultural and social spectrum, and with it liver and heart disease, mental health problems, domestic abuse and child neglect. And alcoholism has devastating effects on the sufferer and his or her friends and family.

Alcohol has become stronger, more affordable, more widely available and more heavily marketed. Drunkenness is more socially acceptable and glass sizes are bigger. Problem drinking is not just a 'personal failing'- it is the result of society's drinking culture, and the effectiveness or not of its regulation of the drinks industry.

Current work

In recent years, the Churches have concentrated on challenging the social factors that lead to increased problem drinking.

The Government is currently consulting on how to implement its alcohol strategy. One key measure is the price of alcohol. The Government has already committed to introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol.

In common with the consensus of medical experts and alcohol charities, the Churches view excessively cheap, strong drink as a key factor in increased problem drinking.

With Government finally conceding the need to consult on this measure, it is important that the public make its feelings known. 

For more information

See  news release on research from YouGov that finds 61% of UK adults say excessive drinking is a problem in their neighbourhood.

The rules and culture around alcohol have changed significantly. See the Methodist Church and Salvation Army resource One Too Many.

Other organisations with useful information include Alcohol ConcernOur Life - public health charity based in NW England and alcohol charity North East of England's Alcohol Office Balance.

Read more from the Joint Public Issues Team 

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