Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Online help for families affected by alcohol

Alcohol Focus Scotland has developed a website to help people explore how their drinking is affecting their family and access help if required.  

My Family & Alcohol includes animations, videos and online self-assessment tools to help people think about how their drinking might be affecting family relationships and wellbeing.  

One in four adults in Scotland drink at potentially harmful levels and three quarters of all alcohol sold is now drunk at home. This means children, partners and other family members are more exposed to drinking and its consequences.  

Some of those involved in developing the website have helped create short films to share their personal experience of how alcohol has affected their family. One young mum said: “I’ve seen so much alcohol abuse that I could easily have become alcohol dependent myself, but having my children changed me and I was more aware of my responsibilities. We need something to break the cycle and get people thinking about how alcohol can affect those around them."

People can be reluctant to access help because of stigma and fear of being judged. To help break down barriers and challenge perceptions, the website features short films of professionals including a GP, health visitor and social worker talking about the various support options that are available. A directory of services provides families with links to a wide range of services and support across Scotland.  

The Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Mark McDonald MSP, introduced the My Family & Alcohol resource at an event in the Scottish Parliament.

Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland said:

“With more of us drinking at home, it's important that we consider how this might impact on our family. Half of us report being harmed by someone else’s drinking, while one in three Scots report having a heavy drinker in their lives. Sadly, alcohol misuse is a common factor in relationship problems and in families splitting up. Our new website provides information which can help people make informed choices about their drinking and highlights how getting help to change unhealthy drinking habits can benefit the whole family.”  

ParentLine Scotland, one of the services showcased on the website, told us in the last year they have taken almost 250 calls from parents and grandparents worried about alcohol use in the family.

Bryan Evans, National Services - Assistant Director, Children 1st said:

“Children 1st know how problematic drinking can harm children and families. Many of our staff in local services, and ParentLine, our National Support service, spend time supporting adults to keep children’s needs at the centre of parents and carers thinking. We are glad to partner with Alcohol Focus Scotland’s ‘My Family and Alcohol’ initiative in raising awareness and addressing this important issue.”