Home > Alcohol use and the Traveller community in the west of Ireland.

Van Hout, Marie Claire (2010) Alcohol use and the Traveller community in the west of Ireland. Drug and Alcohol Review, 29, (1), pp. 59-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2009.00085.x.

Introduction and Aims. The Traveller community as ethnic minority is vulnerable to problematic alcohol use, because of social exclusion, discrimination, lack of awareness and difficulties in engaging with addiction treatment protocols.

Design and Methods. This research yielded an exploratory account of Travellers and alcohol use according to the perspectives of the Travellers and key service providers in the west of Ireland, within the context of a large-scale study on Travellers and substance use. The research consisted of 12 peer-accompanied focus groups of Traveller men and women (n = 57) and 45 semistructured interviews with a self-selecting sample of key service agencies. The research themes related to Traveller culture and alcohol use, sex differences, reasons for consuming alcohol, attitude to alcohol use, problematic alcohol use, levels of alcohol harm-related knowledge, perceptions of alcohol-related risk and experiences of addiction services. A thematic analysis of the information garnered guided this comparative analysis.

Results. The Traveller community, and in particular Traveller men, are presenting with increasingly problematic alcohol use, because of dissipation of their culture and their experiences of marginalisation, discrimination, depression, illiteracy and poverty. Difficulties engaging with law enforcement, community health and addiction services compromise their efforts to deal with this problem and home detoxification attempts are common.

Discussion and Conclusions. Services must aim to take into consideration the cultural needs of Travellers and provide appropriate educational materials, peer education programs and flexible treatment approaches for those Travellers experiencing problematic alcohol use.

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