Guest Blog: Alcohol Awareness - What Employers Need to Know

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13 Nov 2019

Lauren Booker

Lauren Booker, Consultant at Alcohol Change UK 


Alcohol Awareness Week has been a regular calendar fixture since 2004, but has undergone a transformation in the last couple of years thanks to the merger between Alcohol Concern and Alcohol Research UK in 2017.

Moving away from a focus on national policy and raising awareness among Public Health organisations, the new charity, Alcohol Change UK, is keen to make Alcohol Awareness Week relevant to everyone. And this year’s topic is definitely that, with the theme for the campaign being Alcohol and Me.  

If you're one of the 29 million adults[1] in the UK who drinks alcohol, that 'me' does in fact mean you. We all have a relationship with alcohol – some healthier than others – and it’s an opportunity to reflect on the place that alcohol has in our lives.

We may think that we understand alcohol, it’s everywhere! But studies suggest that we know less than we think. To remedy this, Alcohol Change UK is challenging the great British public to test their knowledge with a series of quiz questions launched to coincide with the campaign.

How confident are you that you know your alcohol facts? Have a go at these three questions to find out.

For health reasons, what’s the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended maximum weekly unit consumption for an adult male?

    1. 7 units
    2. 14 units
    3. 21 units
    4. 28 units

If you drank a pint of lager (5.2% ABV) and a 250ml glass of wine (12% ABV), how many units would you have consumed?

    1. 2 units
    2. 4 units
    3. 6 units
    4. 8 units

Which of the following drinks has the most units?

    1. A double whisky(50ml at 40% ABV)
    2. A 250ml glass of wine (14% ABV)
    3. A ‘schooner’ of sherry (20% ABV)
    4. Two Bacardi Breezers

You can check your score at the end of this blog.

According to Public Health England, alcohol is now the number one risk factor for ill-health, premature death and disability in England[1] so it’s worth getting to grips with units, limits and how to reduce the risk. Not only does alcohol have an impact on individuals, it’s an issue for workplaces too, with up to 17 million sick days taken each year due to drinking[2] and a cost to UK business is of over £7 billion in lost productivity[3] including absenteeism, presenteeism and damage to reputation.  Surprisingly, most alcohol-related incidents in the workplace are ascribed to ‘moderate’ rather than dependent drinkers. 

Both ACAS[4] and the British Medical Association[5] have provided guidance on how companies can reduce the risks associated with excessive consumption to their workforce and employers are starting to recognise the value of a wellbeing offer to employees – a healthy workforce is a happy and productive workforce – so there’s a sound argument for investing in measures to reduce alcohol-related harm.

This is why we’re delighted that Alcohol Change UK and IES are planning to collaborate on a new project to help employers improve the way they manage alcohol in modern workplaces – please feel free to contact either myself or Stephen Bevan at IES if you’d like to know more.

The Alcohol and Me campaign is a timely reminder that we can all be affected by alcohol, but also that there are many things we can do as individuals and employers to mitigate the risks. Alcohol Change UK has produced free to download resources so that any organisation, large or small, can use to encourage their workforce start a conversation about their own drinking.


1. (2); 2. (3); 3. (2).

About Lauren Booker

Lauren is a consultant at Alcohol Change UK. She is a qualified addictions counsellor and has extensive experience as an alcohol treatment practitioner.  Lauren specialises in supporting the private sector to reduce alcohol-related harm and promote employee wellbeing.  She regularly advises firms on the development and implementation of effective alcohol policies and supporting employees with alcohol problems.

Lauren is also a passionate advocate for recovery coaching and helping businesses of all sizes to minimise the impact of alcohol on their workforce.

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Any views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Institute as a whole. 

[2] British Medical Association, 2014, Alcohol drugs and the workplace - the role of medical professionals

[3] Institute of Alcohol Studies, 2017, Alcohol in the workplace

[4] ACAS, Health, Work and Wellbeing, 2012

[5]  BMA, Alcohol, drugs and the workplace - the role of medical professionals, 2016