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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Damning study: One in four suffered harm because of another person’s drinking

Ed Carty

Published 24/03/2014 | 13:36

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One in 10 parents has warned that children have been harmed by someone else's drinking, a damning study on alcohol abuse has revealed.

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The review on the impact of problem drinking found one tenth of mothers, fathers or guardians report that youngsters were exposed to verbal and physical abuse, witnessed serious violence in the home or were put in unsafe situations at least once in the previous 12 months.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) study revealed that a quarter of Ireland's population - about 1.1 million people - have experienced some harm due to another person's drinking.

Some 28% people have experienced at least one negative consequences as a result of alcohol including family problems, being a passenger with a drunk driver, assault, vandalism and money problems.

Women are more likely to experience alcohol-related family problems - one in six - while men are more likely to report assaults - one in nine, the HSE said.

In the workplace Ireland has twice the rate of drink-related problems as Australia with one in 10 people seeing problems with heavy drinking co-workers such as their inability to get the job done, covering for their habit or accidents or close-calls because of drink.

Dr Stephanie O'Keeffe, national director for health and well-being, HSE, said the review of alcohol surveys from 2006-10 is evidence of Ireland's bad relationship with drink.

She said: "The evidence in this report aligns with that of many other local and international studies. These show that in Ireland, we have a problematic and harmful relationship with alcohol, and that our drinking patterns are of concern in many age groups across the population."

Medical reports have also warned that three people die every day in Ireland from an alcohol-related illness while doctors are becoming more concerned about the increasing level of drink-related diseases such as liver cirrhosis, especially among young people.

 

Other findings include:

:: Young men had the highest reported rate of assaults - one in five - and of being a passenger with a drunk driver - one in six - while young women had the highest rate of reported family problems - one in five - due to other people's drinking.

:: Overall, one in seven men and one in six workers in the youngest age group were most likely to see bad effects from heavy drinking co-workers.

The HSE study, Alcohol's Harm To Others In Ireland, also found that parents who were classed as regular risky drinkers were more likely to report that children experienced at least one or more of the harms due to others drinking.

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, said the report was further evidence three areas need to be regulated - alcohol pricing, marketing and availability.

Suzanne Costello, chief executive of Alcohol Action Ireland, said the majority of people who drink cause harm.

She said: "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."

Ms Costello called for an end to self-regulation by the alcohol industry, which she said is wholly ineffective.

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