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Changing attitudes towards alcohol

Beer being poured

Three Researchers at Cardiff University have undertaken research into how alcohol use and misuse impacts our society, and what can be done to encourage safer drinking habits.

Their discoveries have led to updated Welsh Government legislation, improved public health initiatives, and a brand new intervention tool designed to educate those most at risk about alcohol misuse.

New law on alcohol pricing

In regions of the UK where alcohol prices are lower, rates of injuries attributed to violence are higher.

Research suggested that increasing the price of alcohol by 1% above inflation would reduce violence-induced injuries by 2,200 each month.

As part of a Welsh Government Advisory Panel on Substance Misuse, a sub-committee led by Professor Simon Moore explored this claim further.

In March 2020, their findings led to the Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill 2018 being passed, making it illegal to supply alcohol in Wales below the minimum price.

After Scotland, this makes Wales the second country in the world to legislate and implement a minimum unit price for alcohol.

Senedd in Cardiff Bay

‘Have A Word’ educational tool

After being admitted at A&E for alcohol-related injuries, patients often receive follow-up support from healthcare workers and the police.

These out-patient clinics were identified as ideal opportunities for an ‘Alcohol Brief Intervention’ (ABI) – a short, structured conversation designed to encourage the person to reduce their drinking to safer levels.

Findings on this tool, known as ‘Have a Word’, were published in 2003. Of those who received an ABI in the out-patient clinic following an alcohol-related injury, the percentage of “hazardous drinkers” fell from 60% to 27%.

By August 2016, 13,000 UK healthcare workers had been trained to deliver the ‘Have a Word’ intervention tool.

In 2018, just 18% of adults reported drinking more than weekly guideline amounts, compared to 20% in 2016 (The National Survey for Wales).

Friends drinking alcohol together

Key Facts

  • There were almost 55,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions in Wales between 2017-2018.
  • Training on how to deliver the ‘Have a Word’ intervention takes just two hours.

UK Armed Forces intervention

One to two thirds of UK military personnel are estimated to exhibit ‘increased risk’ drinking levels.

In June 2016, Cardiff researchers worked with the Ministry of Defence to help mitigate this issue.

Over 1,000 personnel across all Defence Primary Healthcare Centres were trained to deliver the 'Have a Word' tool.

During routine dental inspections, practitioners would then assess the drinking habits of military personnel. Those displaying risky drinking behaviour would receive advice around healthy drinking habits.

Since the introduction of the programme, which has been described as ‘transformational’, all 140,000 UK armed forces personnel have received the screening at least once.

A dentist working on someone's teeth