November, 2016

Time to turn awareness into action and support our communities in their efforts to reduce alcohol harm

“Those working hard to address alcohol misuse in communities throughout Ireland are doing a great job in difficult circumstances. They are working at the very sharp edge of alcohol harm and see on a daily basis the devastation that is caused by our harmful relationship with alcohol for so many people and their families,” said Conor Cullen, Head of Communications and Advocacy with Alcohol Action Ireland.

“Many of these community-based organisations, led by the drug and alcohol task forces, have this week been highlighting the impact of alcohol misuse on their areas through a series of excellent initiatives as part of Awareness Week on Alcohol-Related Harm.

“Evidence of the huge level of harm due to alcohol misuse is indisputable and a comprehensive report by the Health Research Board this year once again laid out in stark terms the toll that our harmful relationship with alcohol takes on society, including the loss of three lives every single day.

“Most Irish families will not need to refer to the comprehensive evidence base, as sadly they will already have first-hand knowledge of the devastation that alcohol misuse can cause. There is not a community in Ireland that is unaffected and the problems extend well beyond physical and mental health into vital areas such as road safety, public order and child welfare.

“For those working to reduce alcohol harm in Ireland, awareness is not an end goal, but serves to highlight the urgent need to address this situation. The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is legislation designed to tackle Ireland’s harmful relationship with alcohol. It aims to reduce the damage that alcohol causes, with a particular focus on protecting children and young people from alcohol harm.

“There is no single solution to reducing alcohol harm in Ireland. This legislation is designed in such a way that all the measures it contains will reinforce each other to tackle alcohol misuse by helping to create an environment that protects children from exposure to alcohol, supports people to make healthier choices in relation to alcohol consumption, and supports all those working to reduce alcohol harm in communities throughout Ireland.

“If we are to be aware of anything as Awareness Week on Alcohol-Related Harm draws to a close it is that the longer we delay the implementation of this legislation in full, the longer we wait to help the many people, families and communities in this country suffering due to alcohol harm.”

Notes

The aim of Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm (AWARH) is to raise awareness among policymakers of the harm caused by alcohol. AWARH was held from November 21-25.

Alcohol consumption, harm and cost in Ireland was published by the Health Research Board in June 2016. Further information and the full report are available here.