The ‘Lower My Drinking’ app has been launched for residents of Sefton and the wider Cheshire and Merseyside area. It is free to download for anyone who lives or works in the area.
The launch of the app is part of a new campaign from the NHS and local councils in Cheshire and Merseyside. The campaign aims to help local people to reduce drinking to the recommended limit of 14 units a week or less. This is of particular importance in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic which saw a rise in harmful drinking and its consequences on people, communities and services.
Research from Alcohol Change UK indicates that 1 in 5 people (21%) have been drinking more often during lockdown, with frequent and daily drinkers further increasing the amount they drink. This matters as habits are formed quickly but can be hard to break.
Alcohol’s effects on mental health are particularly concerning, as are those of tensions in household, especially for those with children. Even more worryingly, the 2020 Office for National Statistic (ONS) data showed the highest rate of alcohol deaths since records began.
Margaret Jones, Director of Public Health at Sefton Council, said: “The past 18 months have been incredibly challenging for all of us and statistics show that many people reported higher alcohol consumption during lockdown. We want people to be aware and mindful of their alcohol consumption so as not to impact negatively on their mental and physical health. The Lower My Drinking app allows people to see how much alcohol they consume and provides useful guidance. I would urge people in Sefton to download the app and take a positive step towards better health and wellbeing.”
Dr Paul Richardson, Deputy Divisional Medical Director at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Now is the perfect time to make changes to drinking habits as routines change with more people returning to work and people now being able to see family and friends. It is the time to get our health back on track and feel better about ourselves as life slowly returns to normality.”
Fiona Taylor, Chief Officer at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of serious health conditions, affect your quality of life and impact on relationships. If you feel like you want to lower your drinking, by a little or a lot, then download the app and make a change today.”
The app is an effective tool that helps individuals to set and achieve a drinking reduction goal. It allows people to track progress, identify their motivation for reducing their drinking as well as highlighting issues that could potentially cause someone to drink more than is healthy for them and gives a set of proven skills that can be used to address these.
Lorna Smythe, 46, from St Helens knew she was drinking too much at the start of the first lockdown. “I’m unsure if COVID caused me to drink more but it certainly didn’t help. There were a lot of things to worry about at home.”
The mum of four has made changes to her drinking habits and says she can’t believe how good it feels. “I’m more positive and have been able to do more things. I’ve even started Boxercise twice a week! I’m getting fitter and I absolutely love it. I’m in a much better place.”