More people calling alcohol helpline thanks to new ads

Wednesday 2 June 2010, 2:24PM

The Alcohol Advisory Council’s (ALAC) new television advertising campaign has sparked a big increase in calls to the Alcohol Drug Helpline.

The first of a series of three ads urging people to ‘Ease up on the drink’ and advising those seeking help to call the Helpline or go to a web address began in April, with a second ad screening in May and a third to be aired for the first time tonight.

Paul Rout, Chief Executive Officer of Alcohol Drug Association of New Zealand, which runs the Helpline, said there had been a 27 percent increase in alcohol-related calls to the Helpline for the months of April and May this year compared with the same period the year before.

“Up to March 2010 calls had been up four percent on the previous year but calls increased dramatically in April and May and most importantly the increase has been sustained.”

Mr Rout said the greatest increase had been in calls from people wanting to talk about their own drinking.

“During the two months of April and May there was a 34 percent increase in callers ringing about their own drinking compared with the same period in 2009,” he said. “In particular there has been virtually a 50 percent increase in the number of women calling about their own alcohol use and the number of Maori males calling has more than doubled.”

Mr Rout said up to March 2010 such calls had increased by six percent on the previous March but again the increase in April and May was significant.

“People calling have commented on how real the television ads are and how much it reflects their own situation,” he said. “Comments from callers ranged from ‘this is just what I’m going through’ to ‘just looking at it touched a raw nerve in me’ to ‘that used to be me’," he said.

The third television ad that goes to air tonight is set in a family home. The ad shows a conversation between a husband and wife the morning after a drinking session in their house. The ad focuses on the impact the main character ‘Matt’s’ drinking has on his son, his relationships and the family’s finances.

“When a family member drinks too much it has a big impact on the rest of their family. Children can suffer because of a lack of supervision and support, relationships begin to fall apart and the money spent on alcohol can mean there’s not enough to cover the basic needs of the household,” said ALAC Chief Executive Officer Gerard Vaughan.

The aim of the campaign is to give people the confidence and tools to do something if they’re worried about the way someone they care about is drinking.

And for people whose drinking has become a problem, the campaign encourages them to take steps to do something about it – by making changes to their drinking and by getting help through the ALAC website or by calling the Helpline (0800 787 797).