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[Alcohol Action Ireland] Action plan on alcohol must be a top priority for Government. (24 Sep 2012)

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New research confirms the level of harmful drinking in Ireland

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, has called on the Government to make the Action Plan on Alcohol produced by the Department of Health a top priority after new research today confirmed that almost three out of every five Irish drinkers are drinking at harmful levels.

The alcohol results from the National Advisory Committee on Drugs’ (NACD) Drug Prevalence Survey showed that 58% of all adults (aged 18 to 64) surveyed are drinking at harmful levels: 71% of male drinkers and 44% of female drinkers.

The NACD survey also confirmed the severity of our binge drinking problems, with 52% of all respondents (64% of men and 39% of women) having engaged in “risky single occasion drinking” at least once per month in the year prior to the survey. Binge drinking was most common among 18 to 24-year-olds, with 72% of respondents in that age group engaging in binge drinking at least once a month.

“The results of this survey confirm what we have already learned from many previous reports about our drinking habits and should also not be surprising when you consider that alcohol-related harm is costing us an estimated €3.7 billion a year in this country and that’s before you even consider the many human costs,” said Director of Alcohol Action Ireland Fiona Ryan.

The Department of Health produced the Action Plan on Alcohol - based on the recommendations of the Substance Misuse Strategy – earlier this year and it recommends that a minimum price for alcohol be introduced as well as a number of restrictions on the marketing of alcohol. However, it has yet to be considered by the Cabinet.

Speaking at the launch of the survey results, Minister Roisin Shorthall said: “it is crucial that we as a society reduce the overall level of alcohol consumed in Ireland and also tackle the problems of alcohol misuse. I am determined that effective steps will be taken over the coming period to address problems associated with alcohol across our society”.

“In a week that will see alcohol being ‘celebrated’ in this country with “Arthur’s Day” on Thursday, it’s time that the Government begins to take the ‘effective steps’ that Minister Shorthall referred to and tackles our alcohol problem, with the path to reducing the huge amount of harm caused by our relationship with alcohol clearly laid out in the Action Plan on Alcohol,” said Ms Ryan.

The NACD survey also showed that 87% of all respondents were current drinkers and the highest proportion of drinkers, 94%, was to be found among females aged from 18 to 24. 31% of men and 21% of women said they consumed alcohol at least twice weekly.

One in every four respondents said they had one to two standard drinks every time they drank, but 27% said they had seven or more standard drinks per drinking occasion, with that figure rising to 60% among males aged 18 to 24 and 48% among males aged 25 to 34.


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