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The county with the most people seeking treatment for alcohol abuse? Waterford

A new study has found that an average of 8,000 people a year seek treatment for alcoholism in Ireland.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

AN AVERAGE OF 8,000 people every year are being treated for problem drinking, with the figures peaking when the recession was at its worst, new figures have found.

More than 40,000 people needed treatment between 2008 and 2012, reaching its highest point in 2011.

Waterford had the highest number of new cases per head of population, closely followed by Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Wexford.

The counties with the lowest number of new cases were Clare, Roscommon, Wicklow, Mayo and Meath.

Many of the people needing treatment fit a certain profile: the study by the Health Research Board found that in 2012, two-thirds of cases were men and the median age was 40.

There was also a significant growth in the number of people needing repeat treatment as a result of chronic alcohol problems.

The proportion of people needing treatment who were in employment fell from 30 per cent in 2008 to just 20 per cent by 2012, suggesting the economic downturn had a direct impact.

Meanwhile, one in five people also used other drugs along with alcohol, most commonly cannabis, cocaine, benzodiazepines and ecstasy.

The median age – or middle point – when people with alcohol problems started drinking was 16, which has remained the same for five years. 

“These figures indicate the level of harmful drinking taking place in Ireland,” said Graham Love of the Health Research Board.

He said that measures such as regulation of how alcohol is marketed and advertised, minimum prices on alcohol, and labelling of alcohol with health information should help to solve some of the problems.

Read: Irish people consumed 38 million litres of pure alcohol last year > 

Read: ‘Conflicting advice’ leading to thousands of Irish women drinking alcohol while pregnant > 

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