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Home > ICGP supports the Government’s plans for alcohol legislation.

Irish College of General Practitioners. [Irish College of General Practitioners] ICGP supports the Government’s plans for alcohol legislation. (20 Apr 2012)

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The Irish College of General Practitioners, the professional body for general practitioners in Ireland, has issued a statement in support of the Government's intentions to legislate to reduce the level of alcohol abuse in Ireland.

Dr Iain Morrison of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) said the organisation supports any measures which may reduce the very high levels of excess alcohol consumption in Ireland, and the damage this abuse causes.

The College highlighted the evidence that the adolescent brain deals with alcohol differently to the adult brain, making it more vulnerable to memory loss and impairment as a result of alcohol binges.

In terms of our adolescents, Dr Morrison pointed out that binge drinking amongst Irish 15-16 year-olds is the third highest in Europe, with an average of €20 a week spent by teenagers on alcohol.

"We need to remember that alcohol, while pleasurable when drunk in moderation, is also a toxin that is damaging to the brains of adolescents," said Dr Morrison. "It is a toxin which we in Ireland have abused as a population. We consume one-fifth more alcohol in Ireland than the European average, and we as family doctors see the adverse effects of this every day in our clinics."

"We see the physical and psychological effects, on individuals and families. The effects are not just on the individual but on the spouses, children and relatives of the drinker," said Dr Morrison. "The more people drink, the more physical harm they cause, to themselves and others."

In supporting the Government's proposed legislation, the ICGP believes that a national alcohol strategy needs to look at a range of options.

"There is no magic bullet which solves the problem of excess alcohol consumption, and a range of options should be considered in the legislation," said Dr Morrison. "We believe that priority needs to be given to addressing the greatest health needs within the population."

The ICGP highlighted the adverse impact of alcohol abuse on the Irish population.
•Statistics show that liver disease in Ireland has increased dramatically since the economic boom, with an unprecedented rise of 188% in incidence since the 1990s.
•During the Celtic Tiger years, the level of alcohol consumption rose in line with incomes, and there was a corresponding rise in both liver disease and suicide levels in Ireland.
•Alcohol abuse has a serious impact on Irish hospital admissions. A total of 15% of all A&E attendances are related to alcohol, and 30% of A&E costs are alcohol-related.

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