An exploration of the lived experiences of people with alcohol related harm in Scotland
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O''May, F., Gill, J., Black, H., Rees, C. & Chick, J. (2016) An exploration of the lived experiences of people with alcohol related harm in Scotland, Journal of Substance Use, , , ,
Background; Alcohol consumption has posed well documented problems for Scottish society, in terms of morbidity, mortality and wider societal costs. Objectives; To investigate the lived experiences and drinking behaviours of people with alcohol-related harm in Scotland, against a backdrop of recent economic downturn, falling incomes, welfare reform and changes to state benefits. Methods; As part of a larger Scottish study (2012-2014) of 639 individuals attending hospital or admitted, relating to an alcohol problem, 20 participants completed semi-structured interviews about their drinking and purchasing habits which were subjected to thematic analysis. Conclusions; Key themes elucidated participants' everyday drink-related behaviours within their local environment including drinking triggers, sourcing alcohol, resourcing alcohol purchase and views relating to substitution. The majority of participants had experienced reduced income, and adapted their alcohol purchasing behaviours accordingly, including 'trading down' to cheaper alcohol. A reduction in food purchasing and heating was a common outcome, as was falling into, or increasing current, debt. More attention should be paid to the prevalence and accessibility of alcohol within local communities. Ultimately, as long as there is highly visible and easily accessible cheap alcohol, heavy drinkers may struggle to undertake positive steps to reduce their damaging consumption levels.