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145 per cent increase in under 18s being treated for alcohol use - report

Figures show that there has been a 43 per cent increase overall in the number of cases of alcohol use being treated.

Image: Johnny Green/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THERE HAS BEEN a 145 per cent increase in the number of cases of people under 18 being treated for alcohol use in Ireland according to a new report.

The Health Research Board has published details of the number of people treated for alcohol use between 2005 and 2010 with figures from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System showing a 43 per cent increase in the number overall cases in the six year period.

In total there were 42,333 cases in the six year period. Half of those cases reported involved people who said they had started drinking by the time they were 16.

In 2010, there was 267 cases of people under 18 being treated, a rise of 145 per cent from 109 cases in 2005.

Other findings included:

  • A 61 per cent increase in cases of people who had been treated previously from 2,229 in 2005 to 3,583 in 2010.
  • Half of all cases treated were aged under 39 years or younger
  • 50 per cent of new cases involved people who had used alcohol for 19 years or more before they sought treatment
  • 40 per cent of cases involved people who drank on a daily basis
  • The proportion of all cases where people were in employment fell from 39 per cent in 2005 to 24 per cent in 2010.
  • One in five people reported using other substances such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and benzodiazepines.

Responding to the findings, Dr Suzi Lyons, a senior researcher at the HRB, said: “Given that some treatment services are yet to participate in the reporting system, the figures underestimate the true extent of treated alcohol use in Ireland”.

The drinks industry said that the decline in alcohol consumption overall in Ireland since its peak in 2001 and particularly in 2008, 2009 and 2010 gave a real opportunity to target measures to address alcohol misuse.

“We recognise the need to reduce alcohol misuse,” the Director of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland Kathryn D’Arcy said.

“And as a major employer and contributor to the economy we will continue to engage with the Government and relevant agencies on all such evidence-based solutions.”

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Hugh O'Connell

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