Addressing alcohol and drug-related issues: Reducing harm and supporting positive change.


Addressing alcohol and drug-related issues: Reducing harm and supporting positive change.


Most adults in Northern Ireland drink alcohol and for many, it is involved in their lives in a big way … in socialising, celebrating and commiserating … but for some people their relationship with alcohol becomes problematic and this can happen very quickly and to anyone at any time in their lives.


Take some time and reflect on your relationship with alcohol and consider it if might be “Time for a change”

Some questions to consider are:

  • How many alcohol free days do you have each week?
  • Do you know how many units of alcohol you are consuming or what the guideline limits are?
  • Is that one bottle of wine shared in the evening becoming two?
  • Has a friend or family member expressed concern at your drinking?
  • Are you concerned about a friend or family member’s drinking?


If you do decide it is time for a change,  then we are here to help you ReThink Your Drink

We have some self help resources to help you find out more information about the effects of alcohol and also signpost you towards more help if that is what you need

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol itself is a colourless chemical; it can be made from almost anything that has sugar in it. For example, beer is made from barley, cider from apples, wine from grapes, whiskey from grain, and vodka from potatoes.

Depending on what they are made from, and how they are made, different drinks have different amounts of alcohol in them.

  • Beer and cider can be 2% to 7% alcohol
  • Wines 9% to 15%
  • Spirits, like whiskey and vodka, are often 40% alcohol.

These percentages are ‘Alcohol by Volume’. On bottles, you may see this shortened to ‘ABV’ next to the percentage number. There are lots of different kinds of alcohol.

Alcohol plays a part in many of our lives…

Yet it’s surprising how little people know about its contents. Apart from medicines, alcohol is the world’s most widely used drug, a glass of wine with dinner, a beer after work, a cocktail in the sunshine on holiday. Alcohol makes an appearance in so many parts of our lives; it can be easy to forget that, like many drugs, it’s addictive, both physically and psychologically.

The NHS estimates that around 9% of men in the UK and 4% of UK women show signs of alcohol dependence sometimes known as alcoholism.

This means that drinking alcohol becomes an important, or sometimes THE most important factor in your life and you feel unable to function without it.

Alcohol Brief Advice Tools

A collection of 4 of our latest tools that are available to download.

View our resources on: Alcohol & Physical Health
View our resources on: Alcohol & Mental Health

Alcohol Test

This short test will help you check out your drinking. By answering a few questions we can score your drinking and let you know if you are at risk. 

Cut down on alcohol with our mocktail recipes

Stay sociable and discover some of our fruit based mocktails to ditch the alcohol and swap it up. Here are some of our favourite recipes.

The Alcohol and You Self-Help Workbook

This workbook is a helpful tool to help you look at your drinking and provides useful information and advice on how you can make changes.  For many people, cutting down on their drinking would be a practical step forward. It could avoid a lot of problems in the future. This workbook is not a replacement for professional help if you need it.

Alcohol and you downloadable factsheets

Thinking about change with your alcohol or drug use?

When thinking about change, being unsure of what to do is normal with any change in your life, including decisions about your alcohol or drug use. Be honest with yourself, the only person who can decide what to do about drinking or taking other drugs is you. In this 15-minute clip addictions specialist Ed Sipler asks 8 questions you may find helpful to decide what is best for you. Feel free to share this with anyone you think it would be useful to you.

Stress and trauma and our nervous system


In this video Ed Sipler, Health Development Specialist, explains now stress and trauma affect us and gives some ideas for how you can manage how it affects you and be resilient.

Living with someone else’s alcohol and drug use or gambling?

When someone is living with some one else’s drinking, drug use or gambling problems the focus is often on managing the situation to keep things together. Family members often focus on the person with the problem and ignore their own needs.

This pocket guide for family members has been produced by Ed Sipler, Addictions specialist with SEHSCT that you can use to help you support yourself. You can download the guide with button below or watch a video about the guide.

Living with addiction in your family?

There is no doubt the impact of living with someone else’s addiction can be devastating.
Yet family members can survive; even thrive despite the disruption caused
by these problems. This booklet provides information and suggestions for family members to help them support themselves when there is addiction or problem substance use in their family.


Self-Care Now When We Need It Most


As we all move though these challenging times, looking after ourselves is more important than ever.  In this video Ed Sipler, Health Development Specialist, presents some ideas for looking after your own wellbeing. The ideas are also brought together in a small booklet you can download below.

Dealing with worry in difficult times

A booklet has been produced to help people dealing with worry. Worry and anxiety are commonplace and now the added strain of Coronavirus pandemic, strengthening our resilience is more important than ever.

You can download the booklet below.  We have also produced the short video here providing an overview of the key messages from the booklet.

Are you coming back from a relapse?

Relapse is normal in the recovery from alcohol or drugs. It does happen. How people see that slip will affect what they do about it.

Addiction specialist Ed Sipler from the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and ASCERT have produced this short video as a self-help support for people that have experienced relapse and are trying to get back on track.

It will give ideas that people have found helpful. It will explore what happens when someone relapses and along with ideas that can help.

How you use the ideas in this short clip is entirely up to you. If you know someone who may benefit from it please feel free to share it.

If you are in crisis or despair, talk to someone, you are not alone.

Lifeline counsellors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to listen and help, in confidence.

Deaf and hard of hearing Textphone users can call Lifeline on 18001 0808 808 8000. Calls to Lifeline are free to people living in Northern Ireland who are calling from UK landlines and mobiles.