People urged to examine their relationship with alcohol

People are being urged to challenge their personal relationship with alcohol in a bid to reduce its potential harm.

The call comes from Martin Lee, the chairperson of the Western Region Drugs Task Force, in the run up to the organisation’s seminar on the subject.

A number of leading speakers will address the issue of drinking in the home and the impact this has on individuals, families and society at the event which takes place at 11am Monday at the Clayton Hotel.

Mr Lee says alcohol plays a central role in family gathering and celebrations. “It is timely that we highlight this issue and address the potential harm to ourselves and others due to this behaviour. Challenging our own personal engagement with alcohol is an ideal way to begin to reduce potential harms.”

The impact of the significant increase in the level and acceptability of drinking in the home will be explored at the seminar.

The Health Research Board indicates that 85 per cent of Irish people believe that our current level of alcohol consumption is too high.

It also says there is a general perception that Irish society tolerates high levels of alcohol consumption. From 1980 to 2010, average alcohol consumption in Europe decreased by an average of 15 per cent while consumption in Ireland over that period increased by 24 per cent. During this period there has been a significant increase in the level and acceptability of drinking within the home.

Ireland has seen a change in its alcohol consumption pattern in recent times with reduced sales in pubs and a dramatic increase in the sale of alcohol through off licences - there has been a fivefold increase in the number of off-licenses between 1990 and 2006. In addition, alcohol in Ireland became 50 per cent more affordable between 1996 and 2008 and is widely available via off-licenses, supermarkets, corner shops and petrol stations

Dr Mark Garavan, a lecturer in social care at GMIT, Castlebar will speak about the role of alcohol in Irish culture at the seminar. Parents’ influence on teenagers’ drinking decisions will be addressed by Dr Bobby Smyth, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist. He will dispel a number of myths surrounding parents’ views on allowing teenagers to drink in the home.

Dr Ann Hope will address alcohol and the harm it causes to others. Suzanne Costello, the newly appointed CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland will look at what has been done to date to address the issues being raised and what steps need to be taken to bring about change in the future.

The event entitled “Home Truths: The Culture of Alcohol in our Homes” will be followed by the official launch of the Western Region Drugs Task Force Drug and Alcohol Awareness Week by Minister Alex White, TD.

Now in its third year, the week has a packed programme of activities and information events across Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. These will explore the issues of drugs and alcohol under the 2013 awareness week themes; Alcohol in the Home; Cannabis; Prescription and over-the-counter medication; Social Media and Alcohol and Underage drinking.

To book a place contact the WRDTF offices at (091 ) 480044. For further details on other events taking place during the week log onto the WRDTF website www.wrdtf.ie and follow it on Twitter and Facebook.

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