Reducing harm caused by alcohol

Harm to others

Alcohol-free Childhood Action Network

ACAN is a forum for all those with a passion for reducing the harm to children that comes from the alcohol use of others, the marketing and social pressures to drink and the impact of becoming a drinker at an early age. The Scottish Government will be consulting on alcohol marketing restrictions in 2020 and this will be an initial focus for the network. Find out more.

Alcohol harm not only affects the individual drinker, but also people around the drinker including partners, children, friends, colleagues, neighbours and even strangers.

Alcohol contributes to a wide range of social problems including anti-social behaviour, crime, violence, sexual assault, domestic violence, family breakdown and child neglect.

Alcohol Focus Scotland research, Unrecognised and under-reported, found:

  • 1 in 2 people in Scotland report being harmed as a result of someone else's drinking
  • 1 in 3 people in Scotland report having heavy drinkers in their lives
  • Younger people under 35 are four times more likely to report harm from others in public places, such as on the street or in the workplace
  • Those who know heavy drinkers are more likely to report harm from others in private settings such as at home, or with neighbours or friends
  • People who report harm from someone else's drinking report lower life satisfaction compared to others.

People working in front line services like police, nurses and paramedics have to deal with the effects of alcohol on a daily basis.

Read Mel's experience of working as a paramedic.

Impact on children and families

In Scotland, it's estimated that up to 51,000 children are living with a parent who has an alcohol problem. Around 30% of children in the UK live with at least one binge drinking parent.

Because drinking too much has become so common and acceptable, it’s easy to forget how much it might be affecting our children.

Every family is different, but children who live with someone who drinks too much often say they feel scared, confused, stressed or angry when their parents are drinking.

Having a parent who drinks too much can have a serious impact on all aspects of a child's life, affecting their health and wellbeing, relationships, school life and in some cases their basic needs may not be met resulting in neglect and abuse.

Heavy drinking is a common factor in family break-up. Research has shown that marriages where one or both partners have an alcohol problem are twice as likely to end in divorce.

Find out more about our resources and training for practitioners working with children and families affected by alcohol.