Don't turn to alcohol to cope with stress this Christmas

Midlands alcohol charity Aquarius is sharing its Safety in the Home Christmas message with the public, as the festive season sees around 40% more alcohol consumed.

Aquarius is worried that the financial difficulties of 2012, combined with the festive stresses that inevitably arise over Christmas, may result in harmful alcohol use and negative consequences for the entire family.

Aquarius’ safety message first focuses on overall family safety, as evidence suggests a strong association between alcohol use and violence in the home.

Common triggers for alcohol misuse include many of the stresses and situations that are norms over Christmas, and range from financial pressures due to increasing fuel costs to combat the cold, to social pressures at work parties and family gatherings, to personal pressures of buying ‘the right’ present and getting everything done in time for Christmas Day.

Aquarius is urging the public to avoid alcohol in stressful situations and to avoid confrontational situations when alcohol has been consumed.

Secondly, Aquarius is highlighting binge drinking, which can be a major issue over Christmas, with more social situations that involve alcohol; from work Christmas parties to presents of bottles of bubbly.

The negative consequences of alcohol use over the festive period are vast, with the number of drink driving cases peaking and alcohol-related hospital admissions dramatically rising on New Year’s Day.

Aquarius’ final message focuses on child–parent relationships, as around 1.3million children every year are affected by parental alcohol problems. Studies suggest that harmful alcohol use by a parent often affects the quality of their parenting, with consequences ranging from neglect to unpredictability to emotional unavailability.

Annette Fleming, Aquarius chief executive, said: "Aquarius supports not only those who misuse alcohol, but family members who are affected by the consequences of this misuse too.

"Alcohol is a big part of the festive season, and the safety message around Christmas needs to reflect not only those who are drinking too much, but the family members who are affect by that individual’s damaging alcohol use too."

She added: "At Aquarius, we are particularly worried that the stresses of 2012 – including mass job losses and tough financial climates resulting from the effects of this recession – may translate into harmful alcohol use.

"Remember that alcohol is a depressant and can turn positive situations sour as well as making tough situations even worse. Don’t turn to alcohol just to cope and don’t bottle it up – talk to someone or get help this Christmas."

  • Aquarius was formed in 1977 as part of a University of Birmingham project to rehabilitate those suffering from harmful alcohol use. Today, Aquarius supports those suffering from drug, alcohol and gambling dependencies. A major part of its work is delivering a Family Service, where early and intensive family support is offered, as well as supporting young people with drug and alcohol problems.

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