Partners across Sunderland are working together to reduce alcohol harms in the city.
The Sunderland Drug and Alcohol Partnership is made up of the city council, Northumbria Police, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, people with lived experience, Wear Recovery, NERAF and other partners.
It has co-produced a strategy which outlines a collaborative approach to reduce alcohol related harms in communities.
The new strategy, Calling Time: Time to Rethink Drink, focuses on prevention, helping people who drink moderately to cut down.
It also ensures the provision of quality treatment and recovery services for those who require advice on reducing alcohol consumption and more specialist support.
The launch of the strategy comes during Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday, July 9.
The theme this year is ‘alcohol and the true cost’ highlighting how cutting back on alcohol can be an effective way to improve your health, boost energy levels, lose weight and save money.
Former Sunderland footballer Kieron Brady has shared how alcohol impacted his life.
“The true cost of alcohol goes beyond currency,” he said. “Alcoholism was en route to killing me, it was proving destructive and debilitating in the months and years before I stopped.
“The symptoms of the illness were extreme, but the consequences of the consumption were every bit as chaotic.”
Kieron explained how quitting drinking altogether has been transformational for him.
He said: “The benefits of sobriety have been endless and still emerge to this day, more than 14 years after I had my last drink.
“I was mentally fettered to the idea that life without alcohol held no meaning.
“I now feel free – my mental health restored, and I have peace of mind.
“Sobriety is not merely about not drinking but altering the toxic mindset that was so prominent and recovering having gone through a wonderful, and necessary, transformation.”
He also shared some tips for anyone worried about their own alcohol use, adding: “I sought help from those similarly afflicted, I grew willing to listen and to replicate what they had done and have reaped the rewards ever since, including being positioned to advise and assist hundreds of people with a toxic relationship with alcohol.
“I would encourage anyone who is worried about their drinking to ask themselves why they drink in the manner they do, as this may represent underlying problems which may be unlikely to improve without external support.”
Calling Time: Time to Rethink Drink is the first strategy of the Sunderland Drug and Alcohol Partnership to address alcohol harms across the city.
It outlines a collective approach to reduce alcohol related harms, focusing on three main objectives:
- Prevention and early intervention
- Providing specialist interventions to promote a quality treatment and recovery system
- Protecting children, young people and families from alcohol related harm
Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for Healthy City and chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, Cllr Kelly Chequer, said: “We strive to improve the health and wellbeing of all residents to ensure that no one in Sunderland is left behind.
“We have worked with a wide range of partners, including people with lived experience, to develop this strategy and ensure it meets the varying needs of people in Sunderland.
“It covers everything from raising awareness of the health harms that alcohol brings to taking early intervention to prevent alcohol problems developing, and specialist treatment for those who need it.”
Dr Kate Lambert is a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
She said: “Alcohol abuse comes at a great cost. It can cause a range of long-term health issues and have a devastating effect on families. It also places huge demand on our already stretched services.
“We have seen a rise in alcohol-related harm. This is not only in those with alcohol addiction.
“It’s also people who drank more during the pandemic and are now seeing the negative effects much later on.
“We need to do so much more to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking harmful levels of alcohol and support people to get help at a much earlier stage.
“We were one of the first Trusts in the region to create a dedicated Alcohol Care Team.
“They work with people to understand their relationship with alcohol and give them support and advice to make really positive changes.
“Working together across the city will no doubt have a much wider impact and help many more people to live longer, healthier lives.”
The Chief Medical Officer recommends no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across 3 days or more.
There’s no completely safe level of drinking but sticking within these guidelines lowers your risk of harming your health. Find out more about units at www.reducemyrisk.tv