Alcohol misuse contributing significantly to anxiety, depression and suicide

Alcohol misuse contributing significantly to anxiety, depression and suicide –  2 out of 5 cases of deliberate self-harm involve alcohol

“Raise alcohol taxes in Budget to fund early intervention, prevention and treatment services and combat alcohol related harm”

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol related issues, today underlined the link between alcohol misuse and damage to mental health and urged the Government to raise taxes on alcohol in next Tuesday’s budget and use the additional revenue to fund early intervention, prevention and treatment initiatives to combat alcohol related harm.

Speaking on World Mental Health Day (10 October), Alcohol Action Ireland CEO Fiona Ryan said: “Alcohol can damage your mental health contributing significantly to anxiety, depression and at its extreme suicidal behaviour by changing mood, increasing impulsivity and deepening existing depression. In 2006/2007 alcohol was involved in two out of five cases of deliberate self-harm in Ireland.

“The reasons we drink, the ways in which we drink, and the after-effects of our drinking can and do impact on our mental health. We drink to socialise and celebrate but we also tend drink a lot over a short period of time as well as using alcohol to deal with stress and to self-medicate depression and anxiety. Consumption rates are falling but they are falling from a record high. Even if they were to decrease this year by 10 % that would still bring us back to late 1990s levels of alcohol consumption.”

Ms Ryan pointed out that excise duty had only been increased twice over the last 13 years and that the Government had a unique opportunity with Tuesday’s budget to make a difference to overall consumption levels by increasing excise duty on alcohol products and using a portion of the revenue raised to put in place early intervention, prevention and treatment programmes to combat alcohol related harm.  

Alcohol Action Ireland is proposing that additionally generated revenue be used to:  

  • Create a comprehensive treatment service which treats not only individual drinkers but addresses the real needs of people in the “fall-out” radius around the drinker, especially the children impacted by alcohol related harm in their families  
  • Promote intervention programmes at GP level since she/he is the health professional most people first consider when looking for help
  • Roll out the national network of youth cafes as promised in the Programme for Government – safe, attractive alcohol-free, alternative environments to drinking with the capacity to promote mental health services and delay age of first taking a drink

For more information contact:


Alcohol Action Ireland (01) 878 010 or 087 219 5723


There is considerable evidence in Ireland to demonstrate the relationship between alcohol misuse and mental health difficulties:

  • There is a strong association between alcohol use and suicidal behaviour. In 2006/2007 alcohol was involved in 41% of all cases of deliberate self-harm, being more common in cases involving men (44%) than women (38%)
  • A recent HSE report tells us that “alcohol can facilitate suicide by increasing impulsivity, changing mood and deepening depression”.  
  • One Irish study of third level students found that students who were regular, heavy drinkers were less likely to use positive coping strategies when feeling anxious or depressed.
  • In a recent survey, Irish adults identified alcoholism, depression and suicide as the top three most important mental health problems that need to be tackled. Most of those surveyed (79%) said that their GP/family doctor would be the first professional person they would talk to if they thought they had a mental health problem.
  • Mental health disorders are almost three times as common among those with alcohol dependence, compared to the general population.