Home > Treated problem alcohol use in Ireland, 2008–2012.

Carew, Anne Marie (2014) Treated problem alcohol use in Ireland, 2008–2012. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 50, Summer 2014, p. 14.

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The National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) has published the latest figures on treated problem alcohol use in Ireland in the years 2008–2012.1  Some of the main results are summarised below.

The annual number of cases treated for problem alcohol use increased from 7,940 in 2008 to a peak of 8,604 in 2011, decreasing in 2012 to 8,336.

The number of new cases treated rose by 17.9%, from 3,833 in 2008 to 4,520 in 2011, but dropped to 4,028 in 2012. The number of previously treated cases who returned to treatment increased by 16.8% over the period, from 3,606 cases in 2008 to 4,212 in 2012.

Both the incidence and prevalence of treated problem alcohol use per 100,000 15–64-year-olds living in Ireland increased in each of the years between 2008 and 2011; both rates subsequently decreased in 2012 (Figure 1): 

  • The incidence increased from 119.7 in 2008 to 141.2 in 2011 and subsequently decreased to 125.1 in 2012.
  • The prevalence increased from 248.2 in 2008 to 269.8 in 2011 and subsequently decreased to 261.5 in 2012.

These increases in incidence and prevalence may be explained by an increase in problematic alcohol use in the population, an increase in reporting to the NDTRS, or a combination of both factors.


Almost one in five of those treated for problem alcohol use in 2012 also reported using at least one other substance, a similar proportion to that observed in previous years.  In 2012, the most common additional drugs used by treated alcohol cases were cannabis, cocaine, benzodiazepines and ecstasy.  This ranking reflects a minor change since 2008, when opiates were the fourth most common additional drug. Use of more than one substance increases the complexity of cases and leads to poorer outcomes for the patient.  Information about combinations of substances used is important in terms of individual clients’ care plans.

The median age at which both new and previously treated cases began drinking was 16 years. This has not changed for five years (2008–2012). The median age for all treated cases in 2012 was 40 years. The majority of those treated for problem alcohol use were male. The proportion of cases in employment decreased from 30% in 2008 to 20% in 2012.

1. Health Research Board (2014) Treated problem alcohol use in Ireland: figures for 2012 from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System. Dublin: Health Research Board. Available at www.drugsandalcohol.ie/21518

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Issue Title
Issue 50, Summer 2014
July 2014
Page Range
p. 14
Health Research Board
Issue 50, Summer 2014
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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