Alcohol Action Ireland, the national independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, today (27th July) releases the inaugural episode of a new podcast series ‘The Alcohol File’
The opening episode of ‘The Alcohol File’ – What is alcohol doing for our health? explores a number of issues relating to what damage alcohol can do to our physical and mental health.
In wide ranging panel discussion with Prof. Frank Murray (former President of the RCPI and chair of Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland), Dr John Ryan (Consultant Hepatologist, Beaumont) and Dr Bobby Smyth (Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist) the show explores an ‘A to Z’ of alcohol harm to understand the specific issues and the impact on our health services, and the wider society.
Drawing on his experiences on the front line at Beaumont Hospital, Dr John Ryan, Consultant Hepatologist, highlights the acute impact of treating people with alcohol use disorders and alcohol related liver disease:
“Over the past 40 years the mortality rate, deaths from advanced liver disease – alcohol-related liver disease predominantly – has increased 400%”
Discussing the tragic impact of alcohol on suicidal behaviour, Dr Bobby Smyth outlined that:
“particularly for young men, alcohol is often part of the back story… a third to half of young men who complete suicide are drunk at the time and that’s often against the back story of low mood, life becoming messy and a bad night .. and an impulsive decision results in a fatal outcome.”
Commenting on the dilemma of alcohol-related illness at a time of COVID pandemic, Dr John Ryan, spoke of the experiences in Beaumont as the crisis emerged:
‘critical care then suddenly became a huge commodity during COVID-19 because a bed in intensive care was potentially for someone with COVID, and now you’re talking about, if alcohol is a major factor in admissions for very, very sick patients are they taking up beds in critical care, and that’s exactly what we knew … when we looked at that critical care, there was about one in five patients sitting in critical care were there because of alcohol, which is an absolutely enormous consideration’
“Where there is a system of investment in alcohol care, the return in investment is huge. If you can invest one euro you get four euro back because you save money by picking up at an early stage before it manifests itself as something irreversible or needing intensive care.”
Reflecting the lack of investment and the need for a more programmatic approach to addressing the consequences of alcohol, Prof Frank Murray said:
“there is a very strong argument for having an alcohol office, a statutory office to be responsible for the harms associated with alcohol.”
‘The Alcohol File’ to be released monthly, will share with the listener a comprehensive, independent analysis, both national and international, of the many complex issues related to alcohol use:
- expert analysis and insight to the health and socio-economic risk from alcohol use;
- the challenges with recalibrating our harmful relationship with alcohol;
- the most effective measures and policy to shape a society that is free from alcohol harm; the commercial determinants sustaining poor public health outcomes and prolonged health inequalities, and
- an exposé of transnational alcohol producers’ commercial and political tactics to impede and obstruct public health policy.
The latest study published in the BMJ highlights that half of Irish drinkers have a hazardous or harmful pattern of drinking (67% are unaware of this pattern); 38 out 100 engaged in monthly ‘binge’ drinking, and 10 out 100 met the criteria for alcohol dependence.
Drinking in denial: a cross-sectional analysis of national survey data in Ireland to measure drinkers’ awareness of their alcohol use.