Category Archives: Alcohol

Does place matter during recovery from alcohol dependence?

In a new paper, published in Health and Place, Niamh Shortt, Sarah Rhynas and Aisha Holloway ask ‘Can the environment play a role in recovery?’ Here they discuss the findings from the paper.

Place matters for health. We know that features of the natural, built, and social environment can be either health promoting or health damaging.  From previous research we know that the environment is likely to be significant in shaping health-related behaviours, including alcohol consumption (here and here) and smoking patterns (here and here). In a new paper we have explored individuals’ experience and perceptions of the role of place in recovery from alcohol dependence. We wanted to gain a better understanding of the influence of the environment on the everyday experiences of those in recovery.

In order to do this we worked alongside a group of individuals who attend a recovery café in Central Scotland.  We used photovoice, a participatory research method that enabled the participants to capture images of their recovery. Individuals at various stages of recovery, but all at least one year sober, were able to document features of the environment that enable and/or hinder their journey.  Nine participants captured a total of 468 photographs. During focus group discussions participants identified features of the environment that were therapeutic and risky.

Therapeutic environments

Almost all of the participants made references to natural, wide-open spaces, such as hills, the sea, green spaces, in which they found calm and healing.  Participants associated such spaces with escape, meditation, clearing a busy mind, calm and support (Figure 1).

Figure 1: ‘I’ve took a, a picture at the top of the Braids. Eh, one that looks onto Arthur’s seat. Really green Arthur’s seat. And to the right a bit looks as far doon, I think you can see Bass Rock. Eh, and all that beauty and scenery and it’s on our doorstep. And I use it for a bit of my meditation and clearing my mind and that’.

therapeutic

Aside from vast open spaces, participants also found support in more everyday spaces, including the recovery café itself or in their homes. The café provides a space where the participants could see that they are ‘not the only one’, other café users understand their behaviour and the café itself was seen as a place of refuge following difficult moments.

Risky environments

All of the participants highlighted places of risk within their everyday environments, for most the single biggest element of risk was the retail environment, including both the sale and marketing of alcohol. For one participant the constant presence of alcohol was summed up with a photograph of the view from his window that included the local shop (Figure 2).

Figure 2: ‘it’s just there right on my doorstep and the first sign is beers and ciders’.

risky

The same participant noted that, before recovery, he was able to navigate the city to buy alcohol 24 hours a day, the challenge for him now is to try to avoid it in an environment where it is so readily available.  Participants spoke of the difficulty of avoiding such triggers in the everyday.

Further themes discussed in this paper include the transitory nature of place (places moving from supportive to risky and vice versa) and shame and stigma. This paper demonstrates that the journey of recovery from alcohol dependence is embedded in place, with place both supporting and hindering recovery.  The findings confirm that people in recovery experience a particular set of challenges on a day-to-day basis. Of particular note here was the ubiquitous sale of alcohol and presence of alcohol marketing and promotions.  By viewing recovery as a journey we can begin to frame alcohol dependence as a process of change; change in both the individual and in the way in which the individual sees and interacts with the environment. According to Banonis ‘recovering from addiction is a daily choice’ (Banonis 1989, p.37), however such choices are not made in a vacuum. This paper extends previous work by the CRESH team that argues that such health-related choices can be made more or less difficult by the environment in which one lives.

 

Scotland’s poorest neighbourhoods have the most shops selling alcohol and tobacco

By Niamh K Shortt

New research published this week in BMC Public Health by the CRESH team, and colleagues in Global Public Health, has found that Scotland’s most deprived neighbourhoods have the highest availability of both tobacco and alcohol outlets.  The average density of tobacco outlets rises from 50 per 10,000 population in the least income deprived areas to 100 per 10,000 in the most deprived areas.  For alcohol outlets licensed to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises the figures were 25 per 10,000 in the least income deprived areas rising to 53 per 10,000 in the most income deprived areas.

CIgarettes and Alcohol. By CharlesFred, Flickr. Creative Commons Licence.
Source: CharlesFred, Flickr. Creative Commons Licence.

Continue reading Scotland’s poorest neighbourhoods have the most shops selling alcohol and tobacco

Scottish MSPs – why vote for a national register of alcohol premises?

By Niamh Shortt

The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Bill stage 3 will be debated today in the Scottish Parliament. Amendments to the bill include a clause, proposed by Dr Richard Simpson (MSP Labour, Mid-Scotland and Fife), to establish a National Register of Alcohol Premise Licenses and Personal Licences.  CRESH support this amendment and called for such a register in evidence given by Niamh Shortt to the Local Government and Regeneration Committee.

edinburgh_outlets_map
Alcohol outlets (red dots) in Edinburgh. Base map data are © Crown Copyright and Database Right 25 June 2015. Ordnance Survey (Digimap Licence).

Continue reading Scottish MSPs – why vote for a national register of alcohol premises?

Empowering communities: An interactive tobacco and alcohol outlet density webmap for Scotland

Today we are launching an interactive webmap that allows users to map tobacco and alcohol outlet density, and related health outcomes, for neighbourhoods (‘datazones‘) across Scotland.  The underlying data we have collected and assembled can also be freely downloaded for use.  Our research from Scotland shows that outlet density matters for health:

  • areas with the highest alcohol outlet density have double the death rate of those with the lowest densities (see our blog postreport and infographic)
  • adolescents living in areas with the highest tobacco outlet density are almost 50% more likely to smoke than those with the lowest (see our blog post, paper and infographic).

ALCOHOL OUTLET DATA UPDATED 25 JUNE 2015:  Previous to this date the alcohol outlet density data had used an alternate measure of density than outlets per km2, resulting in values that were typically 30-40% lower than the actual value.  Whilst the figures have changed the general picture has not: an area of high density remains an area of high density.  The rest of the data are unaffected.

webmap

Continue reading Empowering communities: An interactive tobacco and alcohol outlet density webmap for Scotland

Alcohol and Health in Scotland: Key Stats

As MSPs meet in the Scottish Parliament today to debate progress made against Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy, we’re launching a timely infographic to highlight the very real dangers of the oversupply of alcohol in our society, and the knock-on implications for health and inequality. Final Infographic

Continue reading Alcohol and Health in Scotland: Key Stats

Alcohol outlet densities correlate with alcohol-related health outcomes in Scotland: but so what?

By Elizabeth Richardson

In our recently-published study into alcohol outlets and health in Scotland we found strong correlations between the two: neighbourhoods with higher availability of outlets had higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalisations.  In fact, residents of neighbourhoods with the highest availability were more than twice as likely to die a drink-related death than those with the fewest outlets, all else* being equal (*deprivation and urban/rural status).

Altway, 2012
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffcarson/8278481152/ under Creative Commons licence

But what does this actually mean? Continue reading Alcohol outlet densities correlate with alcohol-related health outcomes in Scotland: but so what?

Alcohol-related health is worse in Scottish neighbourhoods with more alcohol outlets

By Elizabeth Richardson

Alcohol-related death rates in Scottish neighbourhoods with the most alcohol outlets are more than double those in neighbourhoods with the fewest, even once socioeconomic deprivation is taken into account, according to a CRESH report published today.  The research is being presented today at Alcohol Focus Scotland‘s National Licensing Conference.  This blog summarises the background to the research, the key findings, and what this means for reducing further alcohol-related harm. Continue reading Alcohol-related health is worse in Scottish neighbourhoods with more alcohol outlets