Home > Preventing and reducing alcohol-related harm: the Sligo city alcohol strategy.

Millar, Sean (2018) Preventing and reducing alcohol-related harm: the Sligo city alcohol strategy. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 66, Summer 2018, p. 22.

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The Sligo Healthy Ireland Project, in conjunction with the Northwest Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force (NWRDATF), has developed an alcohol-related harm reduction strategy for Sligo city.1 This five-year strategy will focus on four key areas: prevention, supply (including access and availability), screening (including treatment and support services), and research (including monitoring and evaluation). The overall goals are to address alcohol-related harm; ensure factors influencing alcohol supply are regulated and controlled; advocate for a range of alcohol treatment and support services; and use evidence and research to inform decisions in preventing and reducing alcohol-related harm in Sligo city.



Specific goals with regard to prevention include raising public awareness of the burden of alcohol-related harm and of the benefits of effective action to prevent alcohol-related harm. To this end, the strategy will develop and implement a communication plan in relation to the harm caused by alcohol. The plan will focus on communicating the link between alcohol and health issues, family relationship issues, and social harms such as crime, violence, and public disorder. Effective measures to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm will also be communicated.


Supply, access and availability

The strategy will aim to reduce the availability of alcohol in Sligo city, reduce the marketing of alcohol in public places, and promote responsible drinking practices. This will include a review of the density of alcohol outlets in Sligo city, the possibility of strengthening zoning regulations to reduce the availability of alcohol in the town, and limiting the availability of alcohol at civic, sporting and public events. In particular, the strategy will advocate for statutory regulations at a national level in relation to alcohol marketing to protect children and assist licensed traders to be aware of regulations on the sale of alcohol and underage drinking.


Screening, treatment and support services

The alcohol strategy aspires to increase the availability of alcohol screening and promote and advocate the development of treatment services to meet the needs of people affected by alcohol misuse. Specifically, the strategy will encourage the use of appropriate screening and brief advice tools across a range of services; assess and strengthen referral systems for existing alcohol treatment services in Sligo city; and advocate for additional services where gaps in service provision have been identified. In addition, the strategy will aim to facilitate the development of family supports for those affected by alcohol and support the development of a range of services for young people affected by alcohol.


Research, monitoring and evaluation

A survey will be conducted to assess behaviours, attitudes and awareness in relation to alcohol use in Sligo city. During the five-year rollout, a system will be developed to track the progress of the strategy. This will include assessing the impact at appropriate stages and the level of public support. The NWRDATF is keen to engage the public in the discussion and debate on both the issues and the possible solutions to alcohol-related harm. As Seán O’Connor, coordinator of the NWRDATF, explained:

There are strategies which can be put in place that are shown to reduce the amount of alcohol-related harm without interfering with anyone’s enjoyment of a night out. We are hoping to enlist enough support from local people and local agencies to implement an appropriate strategy for Sligo city.

1 Northwest Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force (2018) Sligo city alcohol strategy: prevent and reduce alcohol related harm 2018–2023. Sligo: Northwest Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/28725/

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