Leading charities to highlight ways of lifting the burden of alcohol-related harm from the individual, community and state

Charities call for the implementation of National Substance Misuse Strategy recommendations as a matter of urgency

Two national charities will host a seminar focusing on ways of tackling alcohol-related harm in Ireland tomorrow (Wednesday) in Buswell’s Hotel on Molesworth Street from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, and Depaul Ireland, a leading provider of low-threshold services to people who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, will present “Reducing The Harm of Chronic Alcohol Issues: A Societal Response”.

The seminar will see Alcohol Action Ireland and Depaul Ireland not only highlight the significant impact of alcohol-related harm on individuals, families, communities and wider society, but also highlight the ways in which this harm can be reduced.

Key to the harm-reduction measures discussed at the seminar will be the implementation of the recommendations of the National Substance Misuse Strategy, which will form the basis of the Alcohol Action Plan that Minister Alex White is due to bring before Cabinet shortly.

The seminar takes place in the lead-up to Alcohol Awareness Week (March 18 to 22) and both Alcohol Action Ireland and Depaul Ireland are calling on the Government to consider the Alcohol Action Plan as a matter of urgency.

Clondalkin Drugs Task Force will also be represented at tomorrow’s seminar and is working to reduce the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs through a concentrated focus on the four pillars of the National Substance Misuse Strategy – supply reduction, prevention, treatment and research.

Fiona Ryan, CEO of Alcho9ol Action Ireland, said: “Our relationship with alcohol costs us in terms of our health, our economy, our communities and our families. Financially it costs us over €3 billion a year, an estimated 2,000 hospital beds a night and millions in lost productivity, as well as the innumerable social and personal costs which families and communities bear but invariably end up costing the tax payer.

“In the run-up St. Patrick’s weekend, when we celebrate what it means to be Irish, the Government has an opportunity to redefine Ireland’s relationship with alcohol by implementing the recommendations of the overdue National Substance Misuse Strategy,” said MS Ryan.

Kerry Anthony, CEO of Depaul Ireland, said: “In Depaul Ireland, we witness the chronic effects of alcohol on the individuals we work with and their families. We see that long-term use of alcohol in excessive quantities is capable of; physical and mental health damage, family and relationship breakdown and homelessness causing isolation.

“We advocate a harm reduction model to encourage people with acute alcohol issues to take more care of themselves and have a greater quality of life. Not everyone is in a place where they are able to stop drinking and that is why the harm reduction model of treatment is a vital first intervention to supporting people with alcohol addiction. At Depaul Ireland we hold hope for people that they will be able to make small steps towards changing their lifestyle choices and alcohol misuse and move towards a more positive future,” said Ms Anthony.

“In a recent survey across our 15 services for people who are homeless in Dublin and Northern Ireland, 93% of those surveyed have a current or past history of alcohol misuse and 49% of these admitted that they witnessed problematic alcohol use in their own families during their childhood. This highlights the huge affect and impact alcohol has and it is important that measures are implemented to prevent over consumption and acute addictions for future generations.”

At the seminar tomorrow morning, which will be chaired by Dr Joe Barry, Public Health Specialist, Fiona Ryan, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland, will give an overview of alcohol-related harm in Ireland and put forward the policy solutions with the potential to significantly reduce that harm, while David Carroll, Director of Services with Depaul Ireland, will speak about harm reduction in practice. The seminar will also hear from Sandra Mullen, Co-ordinator of Clondalkin Drugs Task Force, on community based approaches in response to alcohol related harm.


For further information please contact Christine Littlefield, Senior Fundraising and Communications Manager, Depaul Ireland, on 086-0480792 or Conor Cullen, Communications Officer, Alcohol Action Ireland, on 087-9950186.


Depaul Ireland is a leading provider of low threshold services to people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

  • In a recent Depaul Ireland survey conducted in our services 93% stated they are currently of have in the past  misused  alcohol and 49% of these witnessed alcohol misuse as a child growing up
  • 42% said alcohol misuse was a factor in them becoming homeless
  • Depaul Ireland services are based on the harm reduction model where we support people where they are at and encourage them to reduce the harm it causes to their health and well being
  • We developed further our alcohol management policy in 2010 to ensure that harm reduction is adhered to fully in our services
  • Depaul Ireland see the effects of alcohol  misuse  in our services on a daily basis –    early ageing and death, Cirrhosis of liver, insomnia, poor appetite, pancreatic problems,   cancer.  Long-term use of alcohol in excessive quantities is capable of damaging nearly every organ and system in the body
  • In Depaul Ireland services each person has one to one professional keyworking support so that they can address all relevant areas of risk and need identified

Alcohol Action Ireland is the national charity for alcohol-related issues. We are an independent voice for advocacy and policy change, working to reduce levels of alcohol-related harm in Ireland.

The function of the Clondalkin Drugs Task Force research, develop and implement a co-ordinated, locally appropriate response to substance misuse. Our overall aim is to significantly reduce the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs through a concentrated focus on the four pillars of the National Substance Misuse Strategy.