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Over the Limit

The truth about families and alcohol

Our relationship with alcohol is the subject of a great deal of comment and soul searching. Yet much of this debate centres on the impact alcohol has on our streets
and communities – as a result of booze fuelled disorder on Friday and Saturday nights. Yet research set out in this report shows that as a society we should be equally
concerned about the impact alcohol has in our homes and in our families.

As we have done in our previous work on post-natal depression and family violence we have uncovered a silent epidemic in which families are suffering in silence with problems that are a potential ‘ticking time bomb’ – both for the families themselves and society as a whole. We have found that a significant minority of new parents are increasing their alcohol intake soon after the birth of their children; drinking every day; and as a result experiencing conflict within their relationships. Perhaps most surprisingly, 62% of parents believe that their drinking behaviour has no effect on their family.

Our report also highlights particular concern about the level of drinking amongst new parents. Our ComRes survey found that 17% of parents maintained their intake of alcohol upon discovering they were pregnant, including 5% of mothers – which we estimate to be more than 220,000 every year, 35,000 of them mothers, when extrapolated from ONS figures. Further, the poll found that after the birth of their first child, 23% of parents continues to drink as much as before their baby was born, and 17% say they increased the amount they consumed – which we have calculated exposes 280,000 babies to potential harm every year.