A report published by the Health Research Board this week into alcohol-related deaths and deaths among people who were alcohol dependent in Ireland during 2004 and 2008 has found that Mayo tops the polls in both categories.
The report which was compiled using information from the Coroner Service, the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry scheme, the Central Treatment List and the General Mortality Register has put Mayo at the top of the list for alcohol poisoning deaths and deaths from medical or traumatic causes who were alcohol dependent on a county by county basis across the country.
According to the reports find’ings, there were 1.1 deaths per 100,000 of the population in Mayo, which was almost three times higher than the rate in Galway and almost four times higher than in Roscommon. Of the 331 alcohol only poisoning related deaths recorded in the five year period studied 48.6 per cent were in people between the ages of 40 to 54.
The report also found that Mayo topped the list in the number of alcohol dependent people who died from either traumatic or medical causes during the years studied. There were 5.1 deaths per 100,000 of the population in Mayo in this group. This compared to neighbouring counties Galway which had 2.7 deaths per 100,000 of the population and Sligo who had 3.1 deaths per 100,000 of the population in this subset. In the cases where the death was from medical-related conditions the biggest cause of death was from alcoholic liver disease. In those who died from trauma the biggest reason was from a fall in 39.9 per cent of cases and hanging was the second biggest cause of death in 19.4 per cent of cases.
The research shows that nationally there was 672 alcohol related poisoning deaths recorded during the period of 2004 to 2008. The majority of those deaths were of men less than 50 years of age. Alcohol is the drug most frequently implicated in poisoning deaths in Ireland, with half of all alcohol-related poisonings involving another drug, most frequently benzodiazepines (61 per cent - a prescription medication e.g. diazepam ) and opiates (56 per cent ). 3,336 non-poisoning deaths of people who were alcohol dependent were recorded, with the annual number increasing from 508 in 2004 to 799 in 2008. The vast majority (89 per cent ) of the deaths were due to medical causes; with the remainder due to traumatic causes. Alcoholic liver disease (24 per cent ), cardiac conditions (17 per cent ) and respiratory infections (11 per cent ) were the most common medical causes of death among those who were alcohol dependent in all five years.
Two out of every three (65 per cent ) of those who died from medical causes were aged 64 years or younger with more than one third (37 per cent ) of the deaths in the 25 to 34-year age group the result of alcoholic liver disease. According to the report the World Health Organisation has identified a number of evidence-based strategies that have been shown to have an effect on reducing alcohol-related harm. These include increasing taxes on alcohol, restrictions on days and hours of sale and a low legal blood alcohol concentration for drivers.