Free drinksmeter app can help residents manage concerns around increased home drinking during lockdown stress

June 11th, 2020 by

For those concerned that they might be drinking more alcohol than usual or are finding it a struggle to keep the amount they drink under control during Covid lockdown, Safer Cornwall would urge residents to download the free drinksmeter app to their phones.

The easy to use app is available through the Safer Cornwall website or via the drinksmeter.com website. It is designed to help those who feel they may be at risk of damaging their health through excess drinking to manage and monitor their home drinking habits.

Drinksmeter has already been downloaded by hundreds of residents in Cornwall and is highlighted in Safer Cornwall’s ‘Lockdown Home Drinking’ campaign.

This has been launched following a national YouGov poll which revealed that 20 per cent of the 4,000 adults taking part reported they’d been drinking more alcohol than normal since the country went into Covid-19 lockdown. Added to this, there has also been a reported spike in the sale of wine, spirits and beer.

The drinksmeter app can be downloaded for free to a phone or accessed online via the drinksmeter.com website. It helps keep track of how much you are drinking in relation to the recommended amount, which is no more than 14 units a week. This equates to seven double shots of spirits, five average size glasses of wine or six pints of average strength beer/lager/cider.

It also lets you set your own goals and can even work out how much money you could save if you reduce the amount you’re drinking.  It also gives the details of local contacts if you need to speak to someone for advice or support.

Sally Hawken, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for children, wellbeing and public health said: “It is often so difficult at times like these to cope and manage levels of stress and anxiety.  It is so easy to just pour another drink in the hope it will make us feel better. ‘Lockdown Home Drinking’ aims to alert us all to the many serious health issues that can result from drinking more alcohol than we might do normally.

“Too much is bad for the body in so many ways and can also put an added strain on our health services during this unprecedented crisis.

“The drinksmeter app certainly puts into perspective how alcohol you are drinking, and then helps you to personally manage it before it gets out of hand.

“This is why I would urge anyone who might be concerned that they are consuming more than usual during the pandemic, to make full use of this really helpful and potentially life-saving resource.”

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It does happen here and children need YOU to ‘Speak Out’

June 11th, 2020 by

A new campaign is being launched in Cornwall to help people recognise the signs of child sex abuse.

The ‘Speak Out’ campaign was created by Our Safeguarding Children partnership (OSCP), which includes Cornwall Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, the Council of the Isles of Scilly and the NHS.

The campaign aims to take the responsibility of reporting sexual abuse away from children and young people, because they may not be able to say something for a variety of reasons, and instead ask adults to spot and understand the potential signs of CSA and speak out when they think something’s wrong. Our goal is to protect children and help them begin their recovery.

Cabinet Member for Children and Well Being, Councillor Sally Hawken, said: “Child sexual abuse in the family environment is a very complex area of safeguarding and, as a society, it’s something that we can find incredibly hard to talk about.

“Within families and communities, there remains a disbelief and denial about sexual abuse, which means it is less likely to be identified and discussed.  In addition to this, children are very unlikely to tell someone that they’re being abused – particularly when the perpetrator is known to them.

The campaign focusses around a number of key messages. They are:

  • Child sexual abuse in the family environment is a hidden crime.
  • Most children and young people who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know.
  • Knowing the signs and reporting cases of child sexual abuse is everyone’s responsibility.
  • You don’t have to be certain it’s happening – If you’re concerned a child is being abused or their safety is at risk, speak to someone.
  • The OSCP and MARU are there to help protect all vulnerable children and young people at risk of abuse.

Sally added: “When a child or young person is sexually abused, they may not understand that what’s happening is abuse, or that it’s wrong. Therefore, parents, professionals and the public must understand the signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse and know how to respond.”

This campaign is particularly important at a time when social distancing rules mean that more children than ever will be staying at home, sometimes in unsafe environments. With this comes the risk that the signs of sexual abuse may go even further unnoticed and so it is vital that we start to raise awareness of the signs of CSA and clarify how people can report their concerns.

Independent Chair of the Safeguarding Partnership, John Clements, added: “All of us have a responsibility to know the signs and to speak out against child sexual abuse.  You don’t have to be completely sure; anything you tell us could help us to protect a child or young person at risk from sexual abuse.

“Together, we can help to stop child sexual abuse from happening and give children and young people in Cornwall a voice.

If you suspect something is not right, please contact the Multi Agency Referral Unit (MARU) on: 0300 123 1116 or speak to the police. If you are located on the Isles of Scilly, please telephone the Children’s Social Care Team on 01720 424483.

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We Are With You provide lockdown support

June 3rd, 2020 by

Natalie Gyll-Murray manages the volunteer service at We Are With You and during lockdown they have had 12 volunteers offering phone support to service users that have been very isolated. Over 100 service users have been contacted, some with weekly contact, and this has been hugely helpful with great feedback from service users and staff.

Additionally Natalie created a lockdown survival guide with the help of the volunteers, who gave tips about what they have been doing to get through lockdown and their favourite places to go. If you would like some ideas have a look at it!

Download PDF File WAWY Lockdown Help Sheet

 

 

 

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Lockdown Home Drinking: 5. What to do if you struggle to cut down

April 16th, 2020 by

Higher Risk drinking is scored at 16 or above on the AUDIT checklist in the Drinksmeter app, but an even higher score of over 20 could indicate some degree of alcohol dependence. It’s possible to become dependent on alcohol without realising. This would make reducing drinking more difficult, and needs to be done very carefully.

Depending on the level of dependence, someone reducing their drinking may start to experience withdrawal symptoms. To keep the process as safe as possible, services that help people with this process recommend reducing slowly, starting with keeping a diary to record what you normally drink. This can be done with the help of the Drinksmeter app, but don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice too.

At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

In Cornwall, the alcohol support service is provided by ‘We Are With You’, who you may have heard of before as ‘Addaction Cornwall.’ Their contact details are found in the app, and their advice can also be found on their website.

They normally recommend getting professional support before trying to cut down your drinking, but these lockdown conditions aren’t normal. They advise cutting down slowly, over a few weeks, rather than just stopping suddenly. They recommend keeping a drinking diary for a week, to find out exactly how much you drink each day.

Again, the Drinksmeter will help you do this.

They also advise starting by reducing by 10% for a few days. At this stage, if you start to have any withdrawal symptoms, it means you’re cutting down too fast. Withdrawal symptoms could be sweating, headaches, confusion, sickness, blurred vision, lack of sleep, or imagining seeing or hearing things. At their most severe, withdrawal symptoms can lead to fits, which are dangerous. This is why a very gradual process is the safest approach.

Right now, we all need to do everything we can to avoid giving the Ambulance service and the NHS more work. So take it steady.

If you start to experience any withdrawal symptoms, even mild ones, slow down how much you are reducing what you drink. Keep drinking at your most recent safe level for another week, then start cutting down again. Consider cutting down by 5% instead of 10% each week.

They also give some other tips for this stage of the process

  • Ask a loved one for help. They could help you measure your drinks, record your intake or look after your alcohol for you.
  • Having someone going through this with you makes it both easier and more safe.
  • Gradually switch to a lower-strength drink. For example, replace a can of super-strength lager with a standard-strength can.
  • Add water or a mixer to your drinks.
  • Consider alternating, so that you drink one non-alcoholic drink for every alcoholic drink you have.
  • Try to eat healthily: avoid sugar, and try to eat plenty of brown rice and wholemeal bread. These are good for your vitamin B12 (thiamine) levels.
  • Take a vitamin B12 (thiamine) supplement. Ideally you should have 100mg of thiamine, three times a day. You can buy it from health stores online if you don’t already have it.
  • Keep hydrated with plenty of non-alcoholic drinks – but avoid coffee and energy drinks as these can cause sleep problems.

It may be best to keep reducing gradually all the way to zero, but at the point that you have reduced to a lower risk level and decide it’s safe to stop drinking altogether, make sure that someone knows you are about to do this, because you may still need support in an emergency.

Ask the people you live with to be ready to call an ambulance if you:

  • Have a fit or a seizure;
  • Become confused;
  • Develop double vision;
  • Become unsteady on your feet, or
  • Experience hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there).

These symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous.

In addition, don’t stop drinking entirely if you have previously experienced had any of those symptoms around drinking or stopping drinking. If any of this describes your experience, please feel free to call ‘We Are With You Cornwall’ (Addaction) on 0333 2000 325.

Again, at this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

If you have any comments, questions, problems or feedback, please email us at daat@cornwall.gov.uk

 

 

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Lockdown Home Drinking: 4. How to cut back

April 16th, 2020 by

In the checklist within the Drinksmeter, the AUDIT tool, a score of 8 to 15 is defined as Increasing Risk.

This would cover anyone drinking above the 14 unit per week guidelines, and could represent up to a third of all people who drink alcohol.

Within that range, some people are drinking just a bit too much, and could do with cutting back a little and then monitoring their drinking to make sure they can keep it within safe levels. Again, the Drinksmeter is the perfect tool for doing this.

Other people may be drinking rather more, perhaps even without realising until they do this type of self-monitoring process, and then they may find that reducing their drinking is more of a challenge than they expected.

This means that you could find that you might be in one of these categories:

  1. Someone whose drinking is under control within the healthy guidelines;
  2. Someone drinking above the recommended limit, but who can carefully bring it down a little on their own;
  3. Someone drinking above the recommended limit, but who then tries to reduce and finds it difficult; or
  4. Someone who is drinking at more risky levels, and who needs advice or support to carefully and safely reduce their drinking.

The only way to work out where you sit within that range is to keep a record of what you are drinking, to see what that means in terms of units of alcohol and risk levels, and then to set a reduced level you feel you can achieve and try it to see how it goes.

All of those processes are covered in the Drinksmeter app. At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

If you do find that the amount you’re drinking is higher than you expected, and puts you in the Increasing risk range, a sensible approach is to reduce slowly. If you regularly drink 30 units per week – for example about 12 to 15 cans of cider, or above 3 bottles of wine – to suddenly go ‘dry’ might sound a good goal, but could be more difficult for you than reducing what you drink by a manageable amount over a few weeks.

If even that is a problem, then the contacts listed in the Drinksmeter can give you good advice. However, for most people, if you reduce slowly, it will help to make it manageable and safe.

The next in this series will cover what to do if you realise you are in the Higher Risk drinking category.

At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

If you have any comments, questions, problems or feedback, please email us at daat@cornwall.gov.uk

 

 

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Lockdown Home Drinking: 3. How to interpret Drinksmeter scores

April 16th, 2020 by

The types of scores in the Drinksmeter are explained as it takes you through the process, and it then gives advice based on those scores. This still leaves you in control of where you choose to set your own goals from then on.

Within the Drinksmeter there is a 10-question checklist that was formed by the World Health Organisation. This is called the ‘Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Tool’ – AUDIT. We use it in Cornwall as an assessment tool for anyone asking for help around alcohol, and it can be a form of reassurance for those who are ok, or a way of identifying the severity of a problem and the type of support needed for someone needing a bit of help.

At the end of the checklist you will have scored between zero and 40.

0 – 7 is defined as ‘Low Risk’.

This means that someone is drinking within the recommended safe guidelines, and is very unlikely to have any negative health impact from their drinking. That level is around 14 units per week for an adult. Someone in this category may only need to answer the first 3 checklist questions, but the Drinksmeter will work that out and guide you through it.

An easy way to remember the low risk level guidelines is ‘2-3-4’. In other words, low risk drinking means:

2: Only having 2 normal servings of alcohol on days when you choose to have a drink;

3: Only drinking alcohol on about 3 days in any week, and

4: Keeping the 4 days without alcohol in between the drinking days, to give your body a break.

This looks something like this:

Increasing Risk is scored at 8 to 15.

This would mean that someone tends to drink above that 14 unit per week level. This may not cause immediate problems, especially for someone young, fit and healthy, but this pattern will cause gradual and undetected health impact if maintained over a long period, however it could cause immediate problems where ‘binges’ lead to accidents or lack of self-control.

The further up the Increasing Risk score someone finds themselves, the harder they may find it to cut down their drinking.

The same is true for Higher Risk drinking, scored at 16 or above. This type of pattern may be connected to someone suffering from depression or anxiety; or a range of physical health issues, such as increased blood pressure, heart problems, liver issues, or cancers that start from the toxic impact of the journey of alcohol through the body.

If all of this begins to affect choices and responsibility, social impacts on family, relationships and behaviour may make an impact on someone’s life, as well as those around them.

Although many Higher Risk and Increasing Risk drinkers can bring things under control without outside help, for example by following the advice given in the Drinksmeter app, other people in this bracket may need more support if they find that keeping things under control is a struggle.

Some people make genuine efforts to cut down their alcohol, and just find that they can’t. We’ll look at this issue in the next in this series.

There is one more category above Higher Risk drinking, at a score of 20 or above. Someone scoring that high may be dependent on alcohol, with immediate health issues related to their drinking, and for whom cutting down becomes very difficult and dangerous.

Again, that will be covered later in this series.

At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

If you have any comments, questions, problems or feedback, please email us at daat@cornwall.gov.uk

 

 

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Lockdown Home Drinking: 2. How to use the Drinksmeter

April 16th, 2020 by

In the previous article, we invited you to try the Drinksmeter so that during the lockdown you can keep your drinking at a level that you have chosen.

In order to do that, you need to find, download and use the Drinksmeter app.

The app, which is free, can be found either here https://www.drinksmeter.com/ or on your usual app store.

Downloading it on to your phone is as easy as for any other app you use, and then the app itself gives you step by step instructions.

Once you get used to it, you are completely in control of where you want to set your drinking amounts, based on the advice that the app gives you.

Here’s what to expect:

When you first log in, the app gives you an id code, which means that then you can access it from any phone, tablet or computer.

In the initial set up, as well as asking roughly where you live, it asks you for an outline of your normal drinking, or what you drank last week. One of the more complicated aspects of keeping an eye on your alcohol risk level is working with the idea of units of alcohol across different types and strengths of drink, but the app takes that difficulty away by working that out for you.

It also works out the calories in your normal intake, which is important if you’re keeping an eye on your weight and fitness. Again, rather than staying in technical language, it will give you an idea of what that number of calories means in terms of food.

After this, based on your own estimates, the app then works out your normal spend on alcohol, and how that spreads through the week.

At this point it begins to look at how all of that compares to the guidance around alcohol related risk, so that you can decide whether this is something you want to take into account as you make your own plan. In addition, it will then check any other health or risk factors, so that you can take them into consideration. Finally, the app then uses a 10-question checklist to see what impact alcohol has had on you up to now.
All you need to do is give honest answers, knowing that no-one will look at this other than yourself.

These questions have been put together by the World Health Organisation, and give a Risk Level score. They start off by looking at your drinking pattern, and then check how alcohol has affected aspects of your life.

The app guides you through this, but the simple scoring system puts Low Risk at 0 to 7 – this would mean that you are generally drinking within the safest 14 unit per week level; Increasing risk is scored at 8 to 15, meaning that you tend to drink above that 14 unit per week level; and 16 or above as High Risk, for which more support may be needed if you find that keeping things under control is a struggle.

Finally, the app gives an advice summary, but then it’s over to you to decide where you want to set your levels from now on. Then it allows you to keep a record, so that you can see if you are on track.

At this point, if there’s anything there that concerns you, there’s some local contact information, based on info you’ve given about the region where you live. If you’re in Cornwall, you should be given details for Healthy Cornwall, or our Alcohol support provider, ‘We Are With You Cornwall’.

From then on, it’s over to you to use it to keep control of your own drinking.

In the next post we’ll outline what those Risk Level scores mean in more detail, and what to do if you find that keeping your drinking at the level you have chosen is more of a struggle than you expected.

At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

If you have any comments, questions, problems or feedback, please email us at daat@cornwall.gov.uk

 

 

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Lockdown Home Drinking: 1. How to keep things under control

April 16th, 2020 by

It goes without saying that these are strange times.

We’re all staying at home, going out for exercise or essentials, and working out of the way at home as much as possible.

Meanwhile a run of sunlit Cornish blue skies and the Easter holidays have made this a weird mixture of enjoyable relaxation, despite the bad news gathering around us, as we wait for this storm to pass.

Gone is the easy option of a night out, or even a coffee and a catch up.

We have time on our hands in which the community spirited thing to do is genuinely to keep safe at home and watch a movie.

In that context, it’s all too easy to sit back and open another can or bottle of your choice of refreshment, and let the hours pass. This helps you to relax, and it takes your mind off worrying news from around us, or even from your own family. It would be all too easy to stop watching what you drink, and then let the alcohol units start to add up unnoticed.

This could be an excusable short-term response, but there are some problems to be aware of.

For a start, alcohol isn’t really an effective way to de-stress.

It might work in the short term, but if it becomes your go-to, your normal routine, you’ll find that you start needing to drink more to get the same effect.

And you may find that it helps to knock you out and get you off to sleep, but most people then find that you end up with restless and interrupted sleep, which doesn’t leave you refreshed.

Also, the calories may start to add up with the alcohol, and weight could become a problem.And if alcohol really takes hold, the last thing you want right now is to have an accident or make yourself ill, and end up having to go to your nearest hospital.

Right now, you need to avoid that. And the brilliant NHS staff have more urgent matters to take care of.

That would be one avoidable visit to A&E that we’d all be better off without.

So here’s our suggestion.

No-one’s expecting everyone to give up alcohol in this situation. Handled carefully, it remains a valid way of relaxing for many people. But to make sure you keep the amount you’re drinking at a sensible and healthy level. That means being clear how much and when you choose to drink alcohol, and sticking to it.

This is where the Drinksmeter App is a really helpful tool.

By using it you decide where your level is, you monitor that you’re not gradually drinking more, and you stay drinking in the way that you have chosen.

At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

In the next post, we’ll guide you through how to use the Drinksmeter app.

It’s easy. If you’ve used an app on your phone, you can do it!

If you have any comments, questions, problems or feedback, please email us at daat@cornwall.gov.uk

 

 

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Lockdown Home Drinking

April 15th, 2020 by

As the current social distancing restrictions mean staying at home, it is easy to use alcohol  to unwind and take your mind off everything that is happening. You may be more relaxed about your drinking levels and the alcohol units may add up without realising.

In the short-term this is excusable but there may be problems you are not aware of. Over the next couple of weeks we will be providing information about drinking at a sensible and healthy level as well as support and advice if you are drinking at high risk levels.  The Drinksmeter app is available to help you monitor your own drinking levels and we will be providing information around how to use the app to stay healthy.

We will be discussing the following topics in 5 separate articles which you can find by returning to the Safer Cornwall website or by following us on Facebook and Twitter

  1. How to keep things under control
  2. How to use the Drinksmeter
  3. How to interpret Drinksmeter scores
  4. How to cut back
  5. What to do if you struggle to cut down

 

 

 

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Advice, Support and Information during the Covid-19 Isolation

April 14th, 2020 by

We have all been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and how it has changed our daily routines.

Safer Cornwall’s number one objective is helping communities to be and feel safe.

During this time, a wide range of services and support continues to be available throughout Cornwall to respond to concerns about crime, anti-social behaviour and other issues that impact on community safety.  For more information follow link.

Community Safety and Covid-19


You can also find information regarding support for those living with Domestic Abuse here:

Support for those living with domestic abuse during the Covid-19 outbreak

 

We also have advice and information on our social media pages:

                 

 

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Safer Cornwall are a working partnership involving: