Skip Page Header

Home > HRB releases latest trends in treated problem alcohol use in Ireland.

[Health Research Board] HRB releases latest trends in treated problem alcohol use in Ireland. (08 Nov 2011)

External website:

The Health Research Board published a paper today entitled ‘Treated problem alcohol use in Ireland 2005-2010’. Figures from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) show that the number of cases of treated problem alcohol use rose 43% in the period between 2005 and 2010. There were 42,333* cases treated for problem alcohol use in those six years. Half of the treated cases had started drinking by the time they were 16 and one in five cases reported problem use of other substances such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and benzodiazepines.

Key findings from the report include:

• 42,333 cases were treated for problem alcohol use in the six-year period. There were 5,525 cases in 2005 which rose to 7,866 cases in 2010, an increase of 43%. 22,626 (53%) were new cases who had come for treatment for the first time, while 18,396 (44%) were treated previously.
• 61% increase in cases who had been treated previously, from 2, 229 cases in 2005 to 3,583 cases in 2010.
• Half of all cases treated were aged 39 years or younger.
• 145% increase in new cases aged under 18, from 109 cases in 2005 to 267 cases in 2010.
• Half of all cases treated had started drinking alcohol by the time they were 16.
• 50% of new cases had used alcohol for 19 years or more before seeking treatment.
• 40% of cases were drinking on a daily basis.
• The proportion of all cases in employment fell from 39% in 2005 to 24% in 2009.

Dr Suzi Lyons, senior researcher at the HRB said,

‘The number of recorded cases treated for problem alcohol use increased over the six years due to an increase in reporting to the National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) but it is also likely that it reflects a true increase in the number of people requiring treatment for problem alcohol use. Given that some treatment services are yet to participate in the reporting system, the figures underestimate the true extent of treated alcohol use in Ireland’.

While one out of every two cases treated for problem substance use in Ireland between 2005 and 2010 were treated for alcohol, many of those also had problems with other drugs.

Dr Lyons adds,

‘What we see is that almost one in five of those treated for alcohol also have problems with other drugs, with cannabis being the most common followed by cocaine, ecstasy and benzodiazepines. Poly drug misuse presents a challenge for treatment services’.

New fields recently added to the NDTRS reporting form will allow future Trends Series papers to provide additional data on specific alcohol-related questions, such as the clients preferred type of alcohol; volume of alcohol consumed on a typical drinking day; number of days on which alcohol was consumed in the month prior to treatment; and the extent of the drinking problem. These data will further enable service providers to more fully understand the extent of the problem.

Dr Lyons concluded by saying that NDTRS data is an important source of information for helping to inform health care policy in this area;

‘As the government develops a new, integrated National Substance Misuse Strategy to address alcohol and other drugs issues in the Irish population, there continues to be a clear need for complete and accurate data on those entering treatment for problem alcohol use.’

The full paper HRB Trends Series 11, Trends in treated problem alcohol use in Ireland, 2005 to 2010 is available; from the HRB website at

Media queries should be directed to Brian Cummins, 01 2345136, 086-903 7551

*One case does not necessarily represent one person. The same person can be counted more than once in the same calendar year if they had more than one treatment episode in that year.


Repository Staff Only: item control page