Kerry McGee & Ayrshire Council on Alcohol

In Scotland we have a long relationship with drinking. We drink to celebrate, we drown our sorrows, we wet the baby’s head and we raise a glass at a wake. But when drinking starts to cause more than just a sore head, a change might be in order. Family and friends have an important part to play in shaping our lifestyles, either supporting or deterring us from making healthy choices.

Kerry, from Ayrshire Council on Alcohol, understands how influential relationships are on routines and behaviour. At Ayrshire Council on Alcohol, they take a holistic approach, acknowledging the role of individuals, friends, family and community in making a change.

Drinking and Isolation

She says, “With drinking and loneliness and isolation, it’s a chicken and egg situation. There are people who through their drinking might start to lose interest in their activities and hobbies, they might lose their job, they might get into trouble with the police and they might be judged within their community. Over time their behaviour might push friends and family away."

 

"There are people who, perhaps through bereavement, divorce, a change in employment or other circumstances, find themselves on their own and might turn to drinking. People can form a really strong relationship with alcohol. That inanimate object, becomes their friend.

 

"The families and friends can become lonely and isolated through their loved one’s behaviour. They may feel shame and guilt. They sometimes withdraw from their social circle and perhaps don’t go out as much.

 

"There’s no one path. There’s no stereotype. It’s all about the person; their own story and an individual approach to making those changes.”

With drinking and loneliness and isolation, it’s a chicken and egg situation. There are people who through their drinking might start to lose interest in their activities and hobbies, they might lose their job, they might get into trouble with the police and they might be judged within their community. Over time their behaviour might push friends and family away.

A Healthy Support Network is Key

A healthy support network is key to navigating difficult times. Ayrshire Council on Alcohol suggest taking a step back to reflect on the impact of activities and relationships in our lives. Sometimes, we may have to make changes to our friendship groups or to the way we socialise if they start to have an adverse effect on our health and happiness.

 

Kerry says, “It’s important to have a grounding and strong foundations to maintain positive change. We support people to build confidence and self-worth. It would be wonderful to change some of the misinformed attitudes in the community. To do that, we need to respect and celebrate our differences. We’re not all the same.”

It’s important to have a grounding and strong foundations to maintain positive change. We support people to build confidence and self-worth. It would be wonderful to change some of the misinformed attitudes in the community. To do that, we need to respect and celebrate our differences. We’re not all the same.

A Public House

As Kerry said everyone’s experience is different and for some going to the pub is an important part of their social life. While the pub is at the centre of our drinking culture, it isn’t all about alcohol. It's a 'public house'. A place where we learn about our relationships with one another. A place where everyone is welcome. Where we share, and individuals are free to be themselves.

 

If we can take this sentiment to our public spaces and workplaces, we can create neighbourhoods which are open and free from judgement. We can appreciate that everyone has a story and help to support people to connect in ways that work for them.