Hospitals carry the €22 million cost of Galway’s drink crisis

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More than €22 million has been spent on treating alcohol patients in County Galway hospitals over the past five years – according to figures just released.

From The Connacht Tribune

April 25, 2013 by Declan Tierney

The figures reveal that more than 35,000 bed days have been occupied at both University College Hospital Galway and Portiuncula in Ballinasloe by patients suffering from alcohol related illnesses.

Last year alone more than €4.5 million was spent in Galway looking after those who had sought help for alcohol related problems – with real fears that this is set to increase in the future.

While the number of patients attending alcoholic clinics has decreased over the past couple of years compared to 2008 and 2009, the costs have increased significantly when it comes to treating patients.

Over the past five years patients with alcohol addictions have occupied 35,000 bed days in County Galway alone which is an indication of the level of the problem that exists.

Joe Treacy, Addiction Counsellor and Secretary of the Irish Psychiatric Nurses Association, has slammed the easy availability and supply of alcohol and described it as “shocking”.

“We now tend to equate alcohol as a food. And if you walk in any of our foodstores, the availability of alcohol is there in front of you. It used to be one aisle taken up with drink but it is now three aisles when it comes to the large multi-chains.

“The availability and the marketing of alcohol is the slickest campaign that we have ever seen. It is very well done. We are in the worst austerity ever in this country but the abuse of alcohol has continued to soar.

“We cannot ignore the plight that alcohol is exacting on a small country like Ireland. Families are hurting hugely having to leave their houses, lack of income, lack of jobs and depression and yet alcoholism has spiralled in that whole area and it is something that cannot be ignored,” Mr. Treacy said.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.