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[Irish College of General Practitioners] ICGP continues to address the issue of alcohol misuse. (02 Apr 2014)


The ICGP announced on Tuesday 2 April 2014 that it fully supports the actions of Alcohol Forum in leading out the events of Alcohol Awareness Week 2014 to highlight the problems created by alcohol dependency in Ireland. The ICGP plays a key role in educating and training its membership, which comprises almost 3,000 general practitioners throughout Ireland, in screening and brief interventions for alcohol related problems. Ireland is ranked fifth highest for alcohol consumption in the EU and alcohol consumption is now linked to more than 60 medical conditions. The harm experienced both by the drinker and by those in their personal or social vicinity as a result of problem alcohol use in Ireland is frequently highlighted.
Dr Margaret O'Riordan, ICGP Medical Director, said:
"GPs in Ireland, at an individual level, have significant experience in dealing with alcohol related problems, given the extent to which their patients experience ongoing difficulties and harm from alcohol consumption. To effectively treat alcohol dependency requires a multi-disciplinary approach addressing psychological, physical, social and mental health issues. Following consultation with their GP, a range of services should be available to support both patient and doctor to deal with this issue. Given the extent of the problem of alcohol use in Ireland, as is being highlighted in Alcohol Awareness week this week, we are not confident that legislation alone will be effective in treating problem drinking without more dedicated alcohol treatment services."
As many as 20% of patients in Ireland have been shown to have unhealthy drinking patterns. In the general practice setting internationally, screening, brief intervention and counselling for early problems related to alcohol have been shown to be effective in the reduction of harmful and hazardous drinking," she continued.
In line with its evidence-based approach to health care, the ICGP has conducted a survey of its members to ascertain the strategies they employ to identify, screen and treat patients in order to establish what further supports are required for both GPs and patients in the fight against alcohol misuse. This survey shows that in line with international recommendations, almost two thirds of GPS use structured brief intervention when talking to patients about their alcohol intake and 85% provide some form of counselling in relation to reducing alcohol consumption. The survey findings will inform the education and training requirements of general practitioners in this area. The ICGP also has plans to launch an e-learning module for GPs later this year. The ICGP has previously issued a position paper with regard to the prevention of alcohol related problems and is continuing its work in this area. The ICGP is the professional body for general practice in Ireland and its primary aim is to serve the patient and the general practitioner by encouraging and maintaining the highest standards of general medical practice.

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