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Alcohol Awareness Week 2021
November 17, 2021

This year’s Alcohol Awareness Week, which has the theme of alcohol and relationships, is shining a spotlight on the close link between alcohol use and relationship function, reinforcing the importance of early support.

The connection between heavy alcohol use and conflict in relationships is commonly talked about, and it can work both ways. Problems in a relationship such as stress, poor communication, or an inability to cope with challenging times, can lead to an increase in alcohol consumption if people turn to it as a way of coping.

This week, OnePlusOne co-director Verity Glasgow, and research lead Dr Shannon Hirst, have been talking about the bi-directional link between alcohol and relationships at an event held by the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and at the All Party Political Group on alcohol harm.

Alongside inspiring talks by people with lived experience and practitioners, they highlighted how supporting people to develop their relational capability skills early on – improving their communication and conflict resolution techniques – can help avoid the use of alcohol as a coping mechanism. Learning positive relationship behaviours can also be effective at helping to manage harmful alcohol use.

With 50 years of experience in relationship research, OnePlusOne has used evidence from relationship science to create two resources designed specifically to help people improve these skills and become more aware of healthier ways to deal with their own, or their partner’s stress.

Arguing better is an online course which teaches parents skills to cope with stress together and manage conflict constructively. It helps to raise the awareness of impact of parental conflict on children.

Just the one? Avoiding alcohol in pregnancy is an online course to help pregnant people and their partners understand why it’s important to avoid alcohol during pregnancy, and how to manage stress in other ways.

Packed with engaging videos, animations and expert advice, people who have used the resources have found them helpful:

“I don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t found the videos and programmes… You watch the videos and you think, ‘Everybody’s going through the same thing and I’m not terrible,’ and it’s a confidence boost because you’ve found something that can help you… When you’re in that situation it’s really helpful.”

Our resources can be used to help improve relationships, supporting people to cope with stress and reduce the urge to turn to alcohol. Further information can be found in the ‘What we offer’ section of our website.

Alcohol Awareness Week is co-ordinated by Alcohol Change UK.