1.1 Million Of Us Are Drinking To Harmful Levels Expert Warns

By Seamus Whelehan

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We are in the midst of a serious alcohol epidemic a HSE expert has warned.
David Lane co-ordinator of the Southern Drug and Alcohol Task Force says 85% of people presenting to treatment services across Cork and Kerry identify alcohol as their main drug of choice.
Annually the 4 HSE treatment centres in Cork and Kerry work with in excess of 2,000 people who are physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol and drugs.
Mr Lane told a meeting of Cork County Council’s Joint Policing Committee on Monday 23 October as a nation 1.1 million of us are drinking to dangerous levels.
He said the government’s drugs and alcohol strategy published over the summer period is an important milestone in setting out a plan to tackle the issue.
“It’s very rare that we have any individual who will come to us and will only be using one substance. For the majority of people who come to us we will identify what the primary drug is in terms of what the client will tell us.”
However some experts feel the legislation is not going far enough. Mr Lane said there is real fear the legislation could be watered down further by a very strong lobby at national level.
“In terms of the National Drugs and Alcohol bill we are at a very important place right now.”
“It’s critically important that our legislators grasp the nettle and actually do something about the problem that we have” he said.
The addiction service manager said as a society we have become immune to the availability of alcohol.
Mr Lane stated he was in favour of minimum unit pricing while restricting the marketing and advertising of alcohol.
“We’ve become immune to having beer and wine next to the milk and butter in our fridges. When our children go to the fridge what are they looking at.”
“There’s a certain irony when you can go into a garage drive into the forecourt fill up your car go in and buy a couple of bottles of wine and drive off.”
Earlier in the meeting Superintendent Barry McPolin gave a briefing in the crime figures across Cork County.
In his presentation the senior guard highlighted that drunkenness offences were up from 289 to 318 for the three month period of July, August and September when compared to the same period in 2016.
Minor assaults and assaults causing harm also saw an increase. Minor assaults rose from 272 to 374 where assaults causing harm saw an increase from 87 to 94.
The Garda Chief said the increases were possibly linked to signs of an improving economy, where a greater number are socialising more.

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