Campaign to raise awareness of effects of harmful drinking

Addaction has started women-only support groups.

Addaction has started women-only support groups. - Credit: Archant

Charities are keen to highlight the devastating effects of harmful drinking on children and family life in North Somerset during Alcohol Awareness Week.

According to Public Health England (PHE), there were 1,739 alcohol-dependent adults in North Somerset last year.

Around 200,000 children in England live with an alcohol-dependent adult which can have a life-long impact on young people and PHE South West is supporting the awareness week to highlight the effects of harmful drinking and to encourage people to seek support.

Alcohol is now the leading risk factor for ill-health, early mortality and disability for people aged 15-49.

Alcohol-related harm is also estimated to cost the NHS £3.5billion a year.

Addaction North Somerset has set up female-only support groups to enable women to get help with drug and alcohol issues.

More: Addaction launches campaign to raise awareness of harmful drinking.

Support groups in drug and alcohol services are usually mixed, but staff at the charity in the Boulevard trialled some women-only sessions which have been a huge success.

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Recovery worker, Collette O’Connor, who co-runs the group, said: “We found that a lot of female clients were hesitant to engage fully with Addaction due to the fear of being involved with social services.

“Many of them historically have had children removed and adopted or fostered out, or indeed they have been part of that process.

“We wanted to create a safe space for them to open up and learn trust.

“It was also clear that many of the other groups are male dominated and that’s not ideal if you’re someone who has been a victim of domestic violence.

“We also find many of our clients struggle with balancing being a mother and having a career.

“This of course leads on to other pressures such as societal expectations and being viewed as the weaker gender.

“In our group we offer support for clients dealing with these issues, encourage people to share their advice and tips, but also talk through some coping strategies to equip them with skills to better address things in the future.”

To find out more about more about Addaction’s women’s group call 01934 427940 or for free advice and information visit

Addaction has provided a few tips on how to talk to someone if you are concerned about how much they are drinking.

* Pick a good time to talk - when everyone is calm and sober. It is not a good idea to tackle the problem when emotions are high.

* Look for calm, non-confrontational moments to start the conversation – side-by-side chats work well while in a car or out for a walk.

* Focus on your concern for the person’s health and wellbeing, rather than the alcohol.

* On a practical level, why not offer to attend an appointment with them or sit with them while they use an online help service.

* Try to minimise trip hazards in the home and make sure there is a working phone line and smoke alaram.

* Alcohol can often lead to isolation so help your loved one to stay connected socially by inviting them out and visiting them.