Alcohol and Parenting

Raising children can be stressful, and the pandemic has piled additional pressures on parents. If you’ve been feeling like drinking to cope, you’re not alone.

Here we’d like to offer a few tips on how you can manage your drinking and help your child have the best possible chance of a healthy relationship with alcohol when they are older, by setting them an example you would want them to follow

How much is too much?

The UK Chief Medical Officers (the top doctors) advise that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week. That means no more than five or six pints of beer or cider in any one week, or about a bottle and a half of wine. They also advise spreading your drinking over three or more days and making sure you have some alcohol-free days each week. These guidelines are exactly that – guidelines. Drinking more than 14 units some weeks doesn’t mean you’re heading for inevitable disaster; keeping under the 14 unit threshold doesn’t guarantee you everlasting good health. But if you want to keep your risk of alcohol-related health problems to a minimum, 14 units is a sensible maximum. If you want to check how healthy your drinking is, take the Check your drinking quiz on the Alcohol Change UK website.

Tips for cutting back

There a few things you can do to help you cut back on your drinking:

  • Try keeping a drinks diary, jotting down how much you’re drinking, when, where, and maybe why. This will help you get a realistic picture of your drinking habits.
  • Drinking can easily become a habit if you don’t take regular breaks from it.
  • Think about how much alcohol you keep in the house – if you’ve got it in the cupboard or the fridge, it’s all too easy to drink it.
  • Investigate low-alcohol and alcohol-free options. Most supermarkets and quite a few pubs now offer good low-alcohol and alcohol-free options, and the quality of alcohol-free beers, ciders, wines (and even spirits!) has improved massively in the last few years. Alcohol Change UK have reviewed hundreds of drinks on their website – some alcohol-free and most 0.5% ABV or less – to help you choose.
  • if you go out, don’t let other people pressure you into drinking more, and maybe avoid drinking in rounds; and, again, keep a look-out for low-alcohol options in pubs and restaurants.

Don’t bring the pub home: even good parents can make bad decisions

Did you know that 1 in 11 children in the UK are living in a family where there is an alcohol problem , and around 30% of children under the age of 16 live with at least one parent who is a binge drinker.


Getting some help

If you’re worried that you may be drinking too much, the first thing to remember is not to blame yourself, or anyone else. There are all sorts of reasons that any of us might get into a habit of drinking too much or too often and recognising that things might have got out of hand is the first step to getting back on track.

You can use the Check your drinking quiz on the Alcohol Change UK website to get an understanding of your drinking and whether you need to reduce it. It will also help you decide whether you could benefit from seeking further help. There is still, unfortunately, quite a bit of stigma around visiting an alcohol support service; but the truth is that all sorts of people, from all sorts of backgrounds, use these services every year to turn their lives around. Alcohol services understand the need to be discreet, confidential, and non-judgemental.

The Suffolk Alcohol Treatment service is provided by Turning Point. You can find out more about the services Turning Point provide, including how to refer yourself, on our Alcohol Support webpage.

The information on this webpage has been adapted from resources created by Alcohol Change UK for Alcohol Awareness week. Further information is available on the Alcohol Change UK website.

Further Alcohol Hub information and support:

Drinking wisely

Alcohol and mental health

Alcohol and domestic abuse

Alcohol and relationships

Alcohol and sex

Alcohol setbacks, and how to deal with them

Worried about someone else’s drinking?

Small changes can make a big difference

Alcohol treatment and support