Skip Page Header

Home > A new way of reducing alcohol-related health harm.

[Irish Medical Times] A new way of reducing alcohol-related health harm. (23 Aug 2013)

External website:

An innovative intervention offers an effective option to help those living with alcohol dependence to access treatment.

A renewed effort to address Ireland’s growing alcohol-related healthcare crisis has galvanised Irish physicians in recent months.

In April of this year the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) Policy Group on Alcohol expressed serious concern at a dramatic increase in chronic alcohol-related conditions among younger age groups, and launched a policy paper aimed at reducing the extremely high levels of alcohol-related health harm.

The RCPI report highlighted that: the rate of discharges for alcoholic liver disease increased by 247 per cent for 15-34 year-olds, and by 224 per cent for 35-49 year-olds between 1995 and 2007 in Ireland; approximately 5 per cent of newly-diagnosed cancers and cancer deaths (approx 900 cases and 500 deaths each year) are attributable to alcohol; and that alcohol-related disorders accounted for one-in-10 first admissions to Irish psychiatric hospitals in 2011.

The Irish Society of Gastroenterology also recently called on the Government to introduce a 1 per cent levy on alcohol advertising and sponsorship expenditure.

In addition, it joined its UK counterparts in calling for the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP), as well as improved investment in hospital and community alcohol treatment services.

Alcohol dependence

Between 2004 and 2008, alcohol caused nearly twice as many deaths as all other drugs combined in Ireland, and although over half of all Irish drinkers have a harmful pattern of drinking, there has been little change or investment in how we tackle excessive alcohol consumption through our health system.

Current services are limited in number and abstinence remains the first-line treatment option for excessive alcohol consumption. While abstinence has obvious benefits, its success is variable and the limited number of Irish alcohol detoxification and specialist support services require significant expansion.

Alcohol dependence is both under-diagnosed and under-treated, partly due to social stigma, with more than 90 per cent of European patients with alcohol dependence currently untreated.


Repository Staff Only: item control page