Date Published: 1 April 2014

40,000 treated for problem alcohol use in 5 years (Ireland)

Health News from Ireland (Eire)

According to statistics recently released by the Health Research Board (HRB), 40,000 people were treated in Ireland for problem alcohol use during the five years spanning 2008 to 2012.

Further information about problem alcohol use featured on the website includes:

  • The total number of cases increased from 7,940 in 2008, to 8,604 in 2011; then decreased to 8,336 in 2012.
  • The number of new cases decreased in 2012, while numbers returning for treatment increased.
  • Around 20% of 'problem alcohol users' are also using other drugs in combination with alcohol.
  • The proportion of cases in employment has decreased from 30% in 2008 to 20% in 2012.
  • There are notable regional differences in the numbers presenting for treatment.
  • In 2012, two out of three cases presenting were male and the median age of cases was 40 years old.
  • Age 16 remains the median age that people in treatment started drinking, which is below the legal age. This statistic has not changed during the 5 years (2008 ? 2012).

The incidence of new cases od problem alcohol use between 2008 and 2012 were highest in Waterford, Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Wexford. All of these counties had more than 224 cases per 100,000 of the 15-64 year old population. Incidence was lowest in Clare, Roscommon, Wicklow, Mayo and Meath, with each county reporting less than 83 cases per 100,000 of the 15-64 year old population.

According to Graham Love, Chief Executive of the Health Research Board:

" These figures indicate the level of harmful drinking taking place in Ireland. The adoption of the Public Health Alcohol Bill, which includes the introduction of minimum pricing, the regulation of the marketing and advertising of alcohol, and the health labelling of alcohol products, should help address key areas of alcohol-harm reduction among Irish people."

Lead researcher, Dr Suzi Lyons, said:

" The decrease between 2011 and 2012 reflects a fall in the number of new cases presenting for the first time. However, there was an increase in the number of cases returning for treatment which reflects a growth in the number of cases with chronic alcohol use problems.
The overall decrease could reflect a drop in people presenting for treatment, levels of participation and reporting to the HRB by the services Nationwide or a combination of both

" Our records show different levels of reporting from different counties. In some regions all services are reporting all cases to the HRB, whereas there are inconsistent returns from others, which we can see in the West in particular. Incomplete reporting means that some counties figures understate the number of cases presenting for treatment. This could lead to inaccurate assessment in terms of need for services in a particular area" she added.

The full report, Treated problem alcohol use in Ireland: figures from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System, is available from the HRB via

Source: Health Research Board (Ireland). -

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