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Home > Studying individual-level factors relating to changes in alcohol and other drug use, and seeking treatment following Minimum Unit Pricing implementation.

McCann, Mark and Kwasnicka, Dominika and Boroujerdi, Massoud and O'Gorman, Aileen and Anderson, Martin and Craig, Peter and Liddell, David (2020) Studying individual-level factors relating to changes in alcohol and other drug use, and seeking treatment following Minimum Unit Pricing implementation. London: Alcohol Change UK.

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The Scottish Government implemented legislation for Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP), meaning that alcohol cannot be sold to the public for less than 50 pence per unit of alcohol. The law came into effect on the 1 May 2018. MUP aims to reduce the harms caused by alcohol by lowering consumption among the heaviest drinkers. Other studies will evaluate Minimum Unit Pricing by looking at population level trends in consumption, and other factors that MUP may influence. 

This project used innovative methods to understand the individual-level factors relating to alcohol use that cannot be observed looking at overall population trends. We aimed to look at the differences in alcohol consumption, other drug use, and contacting treatment services for alcohol dependence and whether the psychological and social factors that relate to these outcomes vary between individuals. 

Key findings 

  • This study used daily smartphone surveys, and qualitative interviews about social networks to study the individual-level factors related to alcohol behaviour change.
  • The predictors of behaviour varied from person to person, the most common factors were: situational availability of alcohol, mood, and adaptive responses to control alcohol use (motivation, implementing strategies to drink less).
  • There was a trend towards lower units per day after Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) was implemented among some but not all participants.
  • While some reported no change in drinking, others reported losing access to low price alcohol when MUP was implemented.
  • No participants switched to using other drugs after MUP.
  • The mixed methods N of 1 design provides information on the variety of person-specific factors relating to alcohol use. This approach describes the potential processes which may aggregate to produce the population level effect of MUP. Other MUP evaluation studies are currently evaluating the overall effect of MUP.

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