Home > Physicians urge action on alcohol-related harm.

Mongan, Deirdre (2013) Physicians urge action on alcohol-related harm. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 47, Autumn 2013, pp. 16-17.

[img] PDF (Drugnet Ireland 47) - Published Version

The Royal College of Physicians (RCPI) established a policy group on alcohol in 2012. Its members are all experienced medical professionals working in a variety of disciplines and its remit is to highlight the rising levels of alcohol-related health harm in Ireland, to propose evidence-based solutions to reducing this harm, and to influence decision-makers to take positive action to address the damage caused by alcohol use. The group published its first policy statement in April 2013.1 

The policy statement outlines the evidence regarding alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm in Ireland:
·         Ireland’s adult per capita consumption of alcohol was 11.9 litres in 2010, the sixth highest level of consumption in the European Union that year.
·         In 2008, there were 88 deaths every month which were directly attributable to alcohol.
·         A 2006 study showed that more than half of all people who died from suicide had alcohol in their blood.
·         The rate of discharges for alcoholic liver disease increased by 247% for 15–34-year-olds, and by 224% for 35–49-year-olds between 1995 and 2007.
·         Approximately 5% of newly diagnosed cancers and cancer deaths are attributable to alcohol, i.e. around 900 cases and 500 deaths each year.
·         Alcohol-related disorders accounted for 1 in 10 first admissions to Irish psychiatric hospitals in 2011.
The statement makes a number of recommendations that should be implemented immediately to reduce alcohol-related harm. Many of these recommendations have already been outlined in the Department of Health 2012 Steering group report on a national substance misuse strategy.2 They include:
·         introducing minimum pricing;
·         phasing out alcohol sponsorship of sports events and organisations;
·         reducing the number of alcohol outlets;
·         strictly controlling low cost sales promotions and discounts;
·         disseminating guidelines on low risk levels of alcohol consumption; and
·         labelling alcohol products sold in Ireland to show units of alcohol, grams of alcohol per container, calorific content and health warnings.
In addition, the policy group proposes a number of actions within the health system aimed at reducing damage to health caused by alcohol misuse. It proposes that alcohol screening and brief interventions be embedded in clinical practice and recommends that an integrated model of care be developed for treatment of alcohol-related health problems. It also recommends that the government allocate specific funding for research into alcohol-related harms, especially alcoholic liver disease.
In addition to producing further evidence-based policy statements, the group
plans on raising awareness of alcohol health harm through media campaigns and public meetings, and considering how outcomes of the evidence-base can be translated into postgraduate medical training and education. The policy statements and awareness of alcohol health harm will add to the national debate on the issue and, importantly, will recommend tangible actions to reduce damage to health caused by alcohol misuse. (p.5)
1. Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Policy Group on Alcohol (2013) Reducing alcohol health harm. Dublin: RCPI. www.drugsandalcohol.ie/19732/

2.         Department of Health (2012) Steering group report on a national substance misuse strategy. Dublin: Department of Health. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/16908/

Repository Staff Only: item control page