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Mongan, Deirdre (2014) Alcohol Forum conference – Alcohol’s harm to others. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 50, Summer 2014 , p. 17.

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As part of National Alcohol Awareness Week, the Alcohol Forum held a conference entitled Alcohol’s harm to others: when their drinking becomes your problem in the Convention Centre, Dublin, on 2 April 2014. Minister of State Alex White TD delivered the opening address. He spoke about the damaging impact of alcohol on the family, the workplace, and society as a whole and said that reducing alcohol consumption in Ireland is not just a task for government, but that it is also an issue where local communities can take a lead.  He assured the audience that the government is committed to tackling alcohol misuse in Ireland and that the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is being drafted in the Department of Health. He said that the conflicting interests of the drinks industry which seeks to increase alcohol consumption and public health professionals who seek to reduce alcohol consumption cannot be reconciled when it comes to formulating public health policy. He also said that the alcohol industry seeks a role for itself in public health policy areas that extends far beyond its role as producers and retailers of alcohol. 

Professor Robin Room of the University of Melbourne, and advisor to the World Health Organization, described the results of research he had undertaken in Australia which measured the range and magnitude of alcohol’s harm to others. Professor Moira Plant, University of the West of England, Bristol, described the harms caused by maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy and the damage it can cause to the developing foetus.  She also described the signs and symptoms of feotal alcohol spectrum disorder, and the impact it can have throughout a person’s life. Dr Helen McMonagle, rehabilitation co-ordinator with the Alcohol Forum, spoke about alcohol-related brain injury (ARBI) and its impact on the family and society. 

Mr Joe Doyle, HSE National Planning Specialist, outlined how the HSE will respond to the specific recommendations in the Steering group report on a National Substance Misuse Strategy relating to the HSE. Dr Ann Hope, Trinity College Dublin, described the main findings of a recent Irish report which indicate that alcohol’s harm to others is extensive in Ireland (see article on that report elsewhere in this issue). Dr Michael Byrne, University College Cork, described initiatives that the university has undertaken in recent years to tackle alcohol-related harm among the university’s students. 

The presentations may be viewed at www.drugs.ie/multimedia.  

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