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McCabe, Fergus (2010) The alcohol strategy. In: Community drugs problem: defining the problem - defending the responses conference, 15 October 2010, Dublin.

PDF (Alcohol strategy - presentation) - Published Version

Statistics on alcohol consumption in Ireland - Irish people are among the highest consumers of alcohol in the world. We in Ireland are risky and problematic drinkers. The patterns of drinking are as follows:
• It is estimated that 250,000 people are alcohol dependant
• 10% of drinkers drink more than the recommended weekly limit (21 standard drinks for men, 14 for women)
• 28% engage in weekly binge drinking (consuming at least 60g of alcohol on a single occasion)
• A European study in 2006 showed that 54% of respondents in Ireland consumed at least five drinks on one occasion at least weekly. The European average was 28%

In relation to young people:
• A 2006 HBSC study showed that over half of schoolchildren aged 16 or over reported ever having been drunk
• Heavy drinking in adolescence is related to problem alcohol use in adulthood
• People who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence at some time in their lives than those who have their first drink aged 20 or older
• The American Medical Association (2002) stated than an adolescent need only drink half as much as an adult to experience the same negative effects and even occasional binge drinking can damage the young brain
In relation to crime:
• It is clear that there are connections between alcohol and criminal violence
• Garda pulse data for the years 2003-2007 show that the number of drunkenness, public order and assault offences increased by 30%
• The 18-24 age group accounted for 17% of offenders

Fergus explained that reports have been written on the alcohol problem in Ireland in 1996, 2002, 2004 and 2008 yet little action has been taken. He said that he believes that the National Substance Misuse Steering Group will come up with a lot of good and effective proposals in relation to addressing the alcohol issue which will probably include the following sort of actions:
• Increased pricing in general
• Strict restrictions on access to alcohol
• Phasing out advertising and promotions
• A social responsibility levy
• Codes of practice to be regulated by state
• Actions re: underage drinking
• Better monitoring of enforcement

Fergus warned that it will be tough to implement these proposals if they are agreed upon and urged those who know how serious an issue this is to lobby both this government and the opposition parties who are likely to form the next government. He predicts that there will be opposition from the drinks industry and many of the major sporting bodies.

Item Type
Conference or Workshop Item
Publication Type
Irish-related, Report
Drug Type
Intervention Type
Event Title
Community drugs problem: defining the problem - defending the responses conference
Event Location
Event Dates
15 October 2010
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)
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