"reducing alcohol and drug related harm in our communities"


Be Alcohol Aware - Get to Know Your Numbers

Monday 18th June is the start of NI Alcohol Awareness Week, a regional wellbeing initiative coordinated by the NI Drug & Alcohol Coordination Teams (NIDACTS), and supported by the Public Health Agency (PHA).

In conjunction with this, ASCERT has launched its latest awareness campaign that poses the question, how alcohol aware are you?  

The Be Alcohol Aware campaign has been designed to highlight some of the key statistics connected to alcohol consumption in Northern Ireland that can help empower anyone who does take a drink to reflect and come to more considered decisions about their usage levels and patterns.

Speaking about the campaign, Gary McMichael, ASCERT’s Chief Executive said: “We want to reduce the harm caused by alcohol. The aim behind our Be Alcohol Aware campaign is not to tell people they cannot enjoy alcohol, but rather to encourage people to make responsible decisions about when and how much they drink.

“For this campaign we have intentionally chosen a set of statistics that will help people make positive choices connected to their alcohol consumption, and also inform them about how alcohol misuse could affect others living in their community. 

“One on the key numbers we would like to draw attention to is the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation that both men and women set a personal limit of 14 alcoholic units a week, spread out over three days or more.

“This is a very useful and easy to remember figure that can be used as a benchmark to assess your own personal drinking levels against.

“14 units equates to approximately 6 pints of beer, or 6 small glasses of wine, but this will depend on the alcohol by volume (ABV) content. The higher the ABV, the more units of alcohol the drink will contain.

“So with say with a stronger continental larger, one pint could contain as much as 3 units, which would reduce weekly recommended consumption down to 5 pints.

“Self-monitoring can be a bit tricky until you get the hang of it, but there digital resources out there you can use, such as the Know Your Units phone app and the Alcohol and You website at www.alchoholandyouni.com to help get to know your units.”

ASCERT’S campaign also highlights some illuminating statistics relating to alcohol use across the generations. It makes reference to a report by the Department of Health into Northern Irish drinking habits which showed that as many as 1 in 6 older people are drinking almost every day.

What is perhaps most troubling though is the impact that alcohol is having on children and young people living in every village, town and city throughout the province.

By the time they reach 16 years old, most young people will have tried alcohol, often without an form of awareness of ‘safe intake’, or the potential damage they could be doing to themselves.

Alcohol misuse can damage a young person’s health and physical development, not to forget the adverse impact on their education and socialisation, and the risks they can become exposed to when intoxicated.

“The vast majority of young people are growing up in household were at least one adult consumes alcohol, so perhaps it is not surprising that they will develop a curiosity about trying it themselves based on what they see”, Mr McMichael explained.

He continued: “The good news is that research shows us that the numbers of local kids trying alcohol has seen a steady decline since 2000. This is a direct result of education initiatives aimed at these age groups. Alcohol awareness education works and reduces the potential for damage within this vulnerable grouping.

“However, children being harmed by alcohol misuse is not just something that can happen as a direct result of individuals experimenting. Many of the young people we see who access our services individually or as part of a family intervention are also living with the effects of parental substance misuse which can have a highly disruptive impact on the whole family.

“This very human cost of someone’s struggle when dealing with alcohol misuse is also experienced in wider society too. That is why our campaign is calling for the promotion of greater levels of alcohol awareness to become everyone’s responsibility.

“ASCERT works in partnership with many other local agencies and bodies to deliver our services and campaigns. This is because we believe that by working together to inform and educate, the message of harm reduction can reach an even wider audience.

“We hope that this year’s NI Alcohol Awareness Week and our Be Alcohol Aware campaign act as a prompt to get discussions started about alcohol and its impact in every family, school, workplace, youth organisation and social group throughout the province.”

If alcohol is creating an issue in your own life, or the life of someone close to you, why not get in touch to learn more about ASCERT services. Click Here to find out how to contact us. 

Click Here to download and share the ASCERT Infographic and help others to get to know the numbers (when the image opens, right click and select 'Save Image As' from the pop up menu to save the graphic to your device ready for sharing).

Back to Listing

23 Bridge Street,
Co. Antrim
BT28 1XZ

Tel: 0800 2545 123
Fax: 028 9260 3874
Email: info@ascert.biz
Charity Number: NIC101239