Tackling Scotland's Alcohol Problem
Myths, Lockdowns, Curfews & Bans: Alcohol consumption & harms during COVID-19

Myths, Lockdowns, Curfews & Bans: Alcohol consumption & harms during COVID-19

2nd September 2021

By Yvette Mojica-Perez (PhD student, La Trobe University) and Dr. Claire Wilkinson (Senior Research Fellow, University of New South Wales)

Last month the International Confederation of ATOD Research Associations (ICARA), with the support of SHAAP and the Scottish Alcohol Research Network (SARN), held the last of a series of webinars on the impact of COVID-19 on alcohol, tobacco and other drug research and services. Attendees were treated to four fantastic presentations unpacking the impact of the pandemic on alcohol consumption and harms in South Africa (Professor Charles Parry), India (Dr. Abhijit Nadkarni), Australia (Dr. Sarah Callinan) and England and Scotland (Professor Niamh Fitzgerald). Here, we provide a summary of each presentation and then discuss some overarching themes.

New SHAAP Director, Elinor Jayne

New SHAAP Director, Elinor Jayne

9th July 2021

By Elinor Jayne, Director of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP).

In her first week in the job, SHAAP's new Director reflects on the interesting yet challenging times ahead as SHAAP continues its work in tackling Scotland's alcohol problem, and supporting recovery.

Men drinking

Men and Alcohol: Hiding in Plain Sight

14th June 2021

By Colin Shevills, Ex-Director of Balance, the North East of England’s alcohol office.

Men continue to drink more and consequently face more alcohol-related harms than women. In this blog post, Colin Shevills discusses men and alcohol, covering male identity, sport, and positive signs that young men are turning away from alcohol. Colin discusses public health responses that will make it easier for men – and indeed for everyone – to make healthier decisions every day.

3 years of MUP in Scotland: promising signs, more to be done

3 years of MUP in Scotland: promising signs, more to be done

30th April 2021

By Dr Alastair MacGilchrist, Chair of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP).

MUP has gained wide acceptance from policy makers and the public. There are encouraging signs of reduced sales and reduced deaths. These improvements are modest, alcohol deaths and harm remains way too high, and in this blog Dr MacGilchrist argues that the MUP level should be raised to 65p per unit without delay.

Developments in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders – a UK perspective

Developments in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders – a UK perspective

17th March 2021

By Dr Lisa Schölin, public health researcher, formerly Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and member of the Scottish Alcohol Research Network (SARN).

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) results from alcohol exposure during pregnancy, and is thought to be the most common neurodevelopmental condition in Scotland. FASD affects both physical and mental health and can significantly reduce life expectancy. Here, Dr Lisa Schölin from the UK FASD Research Collaboration discusses FASD in the UK with a focus on the Scottish context, including recent research and developments.

Alcohol monopolies

Alcohol monopolies

12th February 2021

By Robin Room, Professor at the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia and the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Department of Public Health Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.

Scotland has made progress in reducing harm from alcohol and an important part of that approach has been attention to regulating the price, availability and marketing of alcohol, known as the World Health Organization's ‘Best Buys’. However, the Scottish off-trade alcohol market remains lightly regulated in comparison to many countries. Here, Robin Room discusses international examples of alcohol monopolies.

Residential rehabilitation: powering up in 2021

Residential rehabilitation: powering up in 2021

21st January 2021

By Dr David McCartney (@DocDavidM), Addiction Medicine Specialist, Clinical Lead of LEAP (NHS Lothian) and Chair of the Scottish Government’s Residential Rehabilitation Working Group

“Rehab? What’s the point of it? There’s no evidence that it works. I don’t refer anyone to rehab. Do you?”

The addiction worker was talking to a colleague – another practitioner working in the field. What he didn’t know was that his workmate was in long term recovery from addiction and felt he owed his recovery, at least in part, to his three months in rehab several years before.

When I heard this, my initial response was a tight smile at the irony of the situation. But as the clinical lead of an NHS residential rehabilitation service (LEAP), I also felt frustration at our colleague’s contempt for the option of rehab as a treatment intervention. In practice, his own beliefs would be a barrier to his clients accessing rehab. Our own attitudes can profoundly affect those we have pledged to help.

Asylum, destitution and harmful alcohol use

Asylum, destitution and harmful alcohol use

18th November 2020

By Dr Steph Grohmann, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Centre for Homelessness and Inclusion Health (CHIH), University of Edinburgh

If somebody has no hope for tomorrow it becomes unbearable, yeah. If he’s been waiting for years and no answer, no decision, no nothing, you don’t know what it’s for and about what, that is a bad situation. It’s a mental torture at one point, so that can cause somebody to switch on something which is wrong” Former UK asylum seeker

In 2019, more than 70 million people globally were forcibly displaced by armed conflict or natural disasters. As a signatory to the 1951 Convention on Refugees, the UK is legally obliged to admit any persons seeking asylum at its borders, currently roughly 35.000 persons a year. Most of those claiming asylum in the UK have already gone through traumatic experiences in their countries of origin or on the journey. Once arrived, they find that despite their hopes of finally having reached safety, they are only at the start of a years-long process of waiting and hoping for a positive asylum decision. Despite these many stressors, however, very little data exists on what role, if any, harmful alcohol use plays in this population.

Reflecting on Rural Matters: conducting research during the COVID-19 pandemic

Reflecting on Rural Matters: conducting research during the COVID-19 pandemic

14th October 2020

By Jackie MacDiarmid, SHAAP Research and Projects Officer

I began working with SHAAP at the end of 2018, just after completing my Masters in Public Health at the University of Edinburgh.

I was excited but slightly nervous. I had never worked in the public health field before, having originally pursued a degree in Political Science and worked in government in my home country of Canada before deciding to change tack. While I had enjoyed this previous work, it had all felt miles away from the “real world”. I had walked down the halls of Parliament I’d seen on TV, welcomed suits into the office, shook hands, sent tweets – but l felt as though I was considering the world’s most pressing problems from a great and comfortable height rather than pitching in to help solve them.

In contrast, this new job felt like a chance to work with an organisation effecting real change.

Understanding Alcohol in the Pandemic

Understanding Alcohol in the Pandemic

31st August 2020

By Dr Peter Rice, Steering Group Chair, SHAAP

In the third week of March 2020 I went to the supermarket at the height of the pasta, paracetamol and toilet paper rush.

In front of me were a couple of men in their early 30s. They seemed unfamiliar with the checkout routine. They had a trolley of what looked like a big family shop. The checkout operator took back two of the four boxes of muesli explaining there was a limit of two items per customer. The customers pointed to their six or so bottles of wine and said “But cereal is healthy, wine is not.” The operator agreed it was illogical, but those were the rules and alcohol wasn’t part of the restriction. They shrugged and got on with their day. The man behind me in the queue was buying several litres of vodka (and nothing else).

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