New HSE report reveals the full extent of alcohol-related harm in Ireland

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, said the Alcohol’s Harm to Others in Ireland report, launched today (Monday, March 24) by the HSE, shows the full extent of the huge burden that alcohol places on Irish society.

“We know that the majority of Irish people who drink, do so in harmful manner and this is reflected by the fact that three people die every day from an alcohol-related illness in Ireland, while diseases such as liver cirrhosis are increasing rapidly, particularly among young people,” said Suzanne Costello, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland.

“However, the harm experienced by people due to their own drinking is only part of the story of alcohol-related problems in Ireland and this comprehensive report from Dr Ann Hope provides a very solid evidence base for the increasing recognition that alcohol harm not only affects the individual drinker, but also affects others around them, including family members, friends, co-workers and the wider community,” said Ms Costello.

Ms Costello pointed out that while the human costs of problem alcohol-use are high, so too are the economic costs with alcohol-related harm costing the State an estimated €3.7 billion every year, through costs such as the provision of emergency services, policing, hospital resources and social work services, as well as lost productivity.

“Harms to others from alcohol can range from minor to serious harms, which may be due to a one-off incident or recurring incidents. In particular, it’s a major driver of crime, including assaults and public order offences, and is one of the primary causes of child welfare and protection issues in Ireland,” said Ms Costello.

“Although not often publicly visible, alcohol’s harm to others within the family can have very serious consequences, with children the most vulnerable. For a child, harmful parental drinking can shape their every moment from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. Issues can include a lack of adequate meals and clean clothes to – at the more serious end of the spectrum – children being physically hurt, emotionally abused or exposed to domestic abuse.

“The debate on the impact of alcohol-related harm – and the policy measures needed to address these harms – needs to fully encompass the far-reaching negative effects of harmful drinking behaviour. We need to regulate the three key areas of alcohol pricing, marketing and availability to replace the existing systems of alcohol industry self-regulation, which have proven to be wholly ineffective with regard to public health, particularly the protection of children and the vulnerable,” said Ms Costello.