Barnsley Council launches DrinkCoach digital tools to help residents tackle their alcohol use

Barnsley Council has partnered with DrinkCoach to commission a new digital platform with access to free online appointments to help residents cut down their drinking.

DrinkCoach allows people to assess how risky their drinking is and receive personalised advice online. The website also directs residents towards the most appropriate local service, including connecting via video call to a DrinkCoach alcohol specialist.

Many people enjoy alcohol responsibly; however, it can also have a negative impact. The Department of Health estimates that 83% of people drinking above the recommended guidelines do not know they are putting their health at risk.

The Chief Medical Officer advises to keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. For people regularly drinking as much as 14 units per week, it's best to spread drinking evenly over three or more days.

The DrinkCoach Alcohol Test is a quick and confidential way for residents to find out how risky their drinking is. The test taker receives advice and, where appropriate, information on local face-to-face support options by answering ten simple questions.

The number of people accessing treatment for alcohol has declined, but the number of alcohol-related deaths continues to rise.

Mark Holmes, Head of Innovation at DrinkCoach, said: “Unfortunately there is still a lot of stigma and shame experienced by drinkers that prevent them from accessing face to face support. DrinkCoach allows people to connect in a convenient, safe and confidential way and get the support they need.”

The council have also committed to funding access to the online coaching service to connect residents via video call to a DrinkCoach. Sessions would normally cost £55, but the council will cover the full amount under this new scheme. Sessions are confidential and convenient with daytime, evening and weekend appointments available. 

In Barnsley, there is an estimated 25.8% of residents drinking above the recommended guidelines and 1.89% drinking at dependent levels. The council is hoping to reach people that wouldn't otherwise present for support. Public Health England estimates that there is a £27 cost saving to the health and social care economy for every increasing and higher risk drinker that receives brief advice.

Councillor Jim Andrews, Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health, said: “A lot of great work has gone on in Barnsley in recent years to help those who feel they have a problem with alcohol or need to cut down on their drinking.

“As we continue to move forward, we have to find innovative ways to connect and help residents that also reduces the future health burden, and DrinkCoach will help us work towards achieving that.”

Residents can have up to six free sessions with a DrinkCoach to help them reduce their drinking. Residents can take the DrinkCoach Alcohol Test to see if they qualify for the free sessions.

A previous DrinkCoach client who was initially drinking a bottle of wine a night said: “This is an amazing service. I am so grateful that it is available. It is helping me to make life-saving changes to my drinking.”

After attending six sessions, the client is alcohol-free and enjoying a healthier and happier lifestyle.

DrinkCoach is delivered by Humankind Charity. Visit DrinkCoach for all the tools you need to track and change your drinking.

Residents can take the two-minute Alcohol Test to see if they qualify for the free sessions. For more information, please email innovation@humankindcharity.org.uk or call Garreth Robinson, one of our Public Health Practitioners, on 07801 899 982.

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