Media campaigns

Media campaigns and associated population level interventions may be designed to increase alcohol awareness and reduce alcohol-related harm, by influencing people’s perceptions and behaviours. One example of a national campaign is Dry January.

Use of ‘new’ media (e.g. through mobile phone apps) is also used to encourage people to change their drinking behaviour. For example, work by the British Liver Trust led to the development of the app Spruce that encourages users to set a weekly goal of having three or more consecutive days a week without alcohol. Such tools tend to attract those who are already motivated to reduce alcohol consumption, however.

There is only limited evidence on the effectiveness of mass media campaigns and social media as isolated interventions to reduce alcohol misuse (see Table 11).  However, they may help to improve awareness and attitudes, and change social norms, as part of a wider alcohol strategy. 1 2

Addressing other risk factors and links with wellbeing

There may also be opportunities to promote links between lower risk drinking and wider health benefits. This may include emphasising the benefits that lowering alcohol consumption can bring by encouraging increased activity, better diet and general wellbeing; as well as raising awareness of the calorie content and financial cost of alcohol. This kind of approach emphasises the wider benefits of lower risk drinking, without framing low level alcohol consumption as an intrinsic hurdle to good health and wellbeing. 3

Reducing stigma

Providing services in a non-stigmatising environment may promote access to support for increasing risk drinkers. For example, satellite services in GP surgeries offering extended brief interventions may reach those at risk of alcohol-related harm, but for whom mainstream treatment services are not appropriate or necessary. However, these services need to be relevant to the needs of increasing risk drinkers, rather than catering for people with chronic alcohol-related ill health. This kind of provision also needs to be culturally sensitive and address potentially harmful alcohol use in relation to other personal and social factors A.


  1. Stigma of alcohol use in some faith communities may facilitate escalation from low to high risk drinking


  1. NHS – Health Development Agency, “The Effectiveness of Public Health Campaigns,” NHS – Health Development Agency, 2004.
  2. M. Pettigrew, N. Fitzgerald, M. A. Durand, C. Knai, M. Davoren and I. Perry, “Diageo’s ‘Stop Out of Control Drinking’ Campaign in Ireland: An Analysis,” PLOS One, p., 2016.
  3. Edgar et al , “Alcohol use across retirement, in Glasgow Centre for Population Health,” 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 15 August 2016].