Home > AAI conference addresses alcohol-related harms.

Mongan, Deirdre (2012) AAI conference addresses alcohol-related harms. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 40, Winter 2011 , pp. 24-25.

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Alcohol Action Ireland held a conference titled ‘Alcohol: Where’s the harm?’on 15 November in the Royal College of Physicians. The conference was opened by Róisín Shortall, Minister of State with responsibility for Primary Care at the Department of Health, who said that parental attitudes to drinking were sometimes ‘ambivalent’ and ‘irresponsible’. She also said that the ‘time was right for action to be taken’ and that she wanted to focus attention on minimum pricing and tougher enforcement of underage selling and distance selling of alcohol, such as phone and online ordering of alcohol. 

Fiona Ryan, director of Alcohol Action Ireland, launched the results of a national survey commissioned by her organisation which looked at the harms and damage caused by other people’s drinking. The sample consisted of 1,001 adults aged 16 and over and interviews were conducted by telephone as part of a Behaviour and Attitudes Telebarometer survey. 
Almost six in 10 respondents stated that they had been affected by alcohol-related incidents in their community in the previous year as a result of someone else’s drinking; this included 45% who stated that they had gone out of their way to avoid drunk people or places where drinkers were known to hang out, 21% said that they had been kept awake at night or disturbed, 12% had been verbally abused and 8% had been threatened. Harms were more frequently experienced by men, younger people and those living in urban areas. Nine per cent reported that either they or a family member had been assaulted by a person under the influence of alcohol, which corresponds to 318,000 of the total population aged 16 and over. However, only 45% of those who had personally been assaulted reported the assault to the police.  
In relation to property damage, 7% stated that their house or car had been damaged, 13% had had to clean up outside their house, and 5% had had to pay to repair damage to home, car or property as a result of someone else’s drinking. Ms Ryan said that, based on these results, the estimated cost to the country of damage, clean-up costs and repairs was €164.9 million.
Ann Hope outlined the Irish and international evidence in relation to the link between alcohol and crime and identified the factors most associated with alcohol-related violence as regular risky drinking, being male and being young. From a policy perspective, she said that we needed licensing laws with clear public health objectives, a review of outlet density and a ban on cheap promotions. Sean Byrne presented an analysis of the economic costs of alcohol-related crime in Ireland in 2010, which amounted to €1.8 billion. This figure includes the costs of policing alcohol-related crime, the costs to the court, prison and probation systems and the costs in anticipation of crime. 
Superintendent Colette Quinn, director of the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme, described how the programme is dealing with the issue of alcohol, while Sandra Coughlan described the evolution of the Club Cork project and the development of additional regional projects in the HSE South Region. Martine McKillop and Stevie Lavery discussed how Northern Ireland is tackling alcohol-related crime. 
Clíona Saidléar of Rape Crisis Network Ireland highlighted the link between alcohol and sexual violence and said that alcohol consumption, especially drinking to intoxication, was a feature in a high proportion of rapes committed in Ireland. She also discussed the role of alcohol in Irish culture. She said that in Irish law and legal practice alcohol is not a mitigating factor in sexual offence cases, however, in Irish culture alcohol is often cited as a mitigating factor for so-called ‘uncharacteristic’ behaviour, such as violence or rape committed while intoxicated. Sharon O’Halloran, director of Safe Ireland, spoke of the link between domestic violence and alcohol, as did Christine Toft of Alcohol Concern in the UK. There is a huge overlap between alcohol and domestic violence; perpetrators often use alcohol before or during the incident, while victims may use alcohol to numb the pain of the abuse. Thomas Bibby of MOVE (men overcoming violence) Ireland stressed the need for greater multi-agency collaboration as sexual/domestic violence and drug/alcohol use are overlapping issues. He concluded that by working together we can improve the way services are delivered, providing better protection to women and children.

Copies of all the presentations may be accessed on Alcohol Action Ireland’s website http://alcoholireland.ie/.

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 40, Winter 2011
Page Range:pp. 24-25
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 40, Winter 2011
Accession Number:HRB (Electronic Only)
Subjects:MA-ML Social science, culture and community > Social costs and benefits > Social costs and benefits of substance use
A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence > Problem substance use
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
G Health and disease > Substance use disorder > Alcohol use
A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence > Substance use behaviour > Alcohol consumption
MM-MO Crime and law > Crime > Substance related crime
A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Effects and consequences

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