Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Challenge and Change: Lived Experience Voices on Alcohol Marketing

Listening to and highlighting the voices of lived and living experience is an important part of our work at Alcohol Focus Scotland. Over the past 2 years, our Involvement team has been working with people and organisations to help guide the development of alcohol policy. We have facilitated activities with people affected by alcohol, including people in recovery, their friends and families, as well as children and young people.

Listening to people’s experiences matters. It can give us valuable information and a deeper understanding of issues involving alcohol for people in Scotland.

Alcohol Marketing Consultation 

People in recovery tell us that alcohol marketing can be threatening to their recovery. It can also impact on their ability to live and thrive in their communities in the same way as others.

YSort it football stripsChildren and young people tell us that they see  alcohol everywhere. Exposure to alcohol marketing  is a cause of youth drinking. It leads young people  to start drinking earlier, to drink more if they are  already drinking, and to drink at heavy or  problematic levels. Because of this, it is vital that  we listen to their experiences!

Over 200 young people and over 300 people in  recovery have worked with the Involvement team  here at AFS (so far!). Through information  sessions, activities, and focus groups, AFS was able to support people to respond to the recent Scottish  Government consultation on alcohol advertising and  promotion. Their input also helped shape our own response.

“In Your Face”: Experiences of Alcohol Marketing 

100 young people and more than 150 people in recovery worked with us to create two animations. The animations explore the experiences of people in recovery and children and young people. Both were shown to MSPs at our event in Parliament, showing the people who make important decisions the impact alcohol marketing has on our everyday lives.

Speaking at our event were Rod Anderson, a person in recovery and Chief Recovery Officer of Recovery Coaching Scotland, and Ewan Carmichael, a Member of the Young Scot Health Panel on alcohol marketing. Rod and Ewan spoke about their own experiences and why they think it's important to restrict alcohol advertising in Scotland.

We spoke to Rod so he could tell you about his involvement with AFS in his own words:

Rod Anderson 17.01.23

“The parliamentary event was great and I really enjoyed being there. The profile of it was perfect and the correct people were there. All people in recovery want is to be heard and have our voices heard. The voice of lived experience really came through (at the event) and I really felt excellent about it. We can’t take our foot off the gas now and we need to keep putting pressure on the alcohol industry.

“I would really encourage people in recovery (and I have done) to have their voice heard and this is a great opportunity to do that. I feel as if AFS provides one of the few places where it is an outlet for that and to be heard.”  

– Rod Anderson


Young people from the Prince’s Trust North Berwick Youth Project, who were involved in the animations, also came along to our event. They had the opportunity to meet Paul McLennan MSP, their local representative.

 North Berwick w Paul McLennan 17.01.23

   “I have achieved something tonight and I feel like my voice is being heard more.” 

   – Young person, North Berwick Youth Project, Age 12





Get Involved 

The impact of lived experience involvement is invaluable for AFS, and as you’ve read, also for the people we work with. We are keen to expand our involvement work, so if you’d like to share your stories or your views, we’d love to hear from you!

If you or your organisation would like to get involved with our work, please get in touch with our Involvement team.