The committe also heard that the last few years have seen the worst ever figures for alcohol harm in Ireland, including a trebling of liver disease and of alcohol related deaths since 1995. There were also 7,920 admissions to specialist addiction centres in 2008 and 1,798 admissions to mental hospitals in 2010. Dr Bedford added that:
most of these harms occur not in alcoholics or people with alcohol dependence but rather among regular drinkers who drink at hazardous or harmful levels — unfortunately over 50% of all drinkers.An opportunity to save lives and money
Senator John Crown, also a member of the committee, brought the monetary cost of alcohol harm into the equation. If the alcohol factor was removed it would "probably end most of the waiting lists" in hospitals he told the committee. But the government doesn't seem to be listening. Alcohol Action Ireland, in its post budget analysis, puts it like this. "Ireland is currently paying an estimated €3.7 billion a year in alcohol-related harm, ironically almost the equivalent amount we have to pay back to international debtors". But 'budget 2012 was a false step' and did the cause of alcohol harm reduction no favours.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan rejected the restoration of excise duty to 2009 levels - a move which has lost the Exchequer a potential €178 million: the same amount that would have headed off the now widely condemned cuts to disabled young people, cuts to lone parents and increase in student fees.Let's hope for better in 2012.
Read some of the most popular Gargle Nation Posts of 2011.
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Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: Facts and analysis from FASD awareness week
Suicide and Alcohol: Special report on how the suicide figures are hidden
How safe are the roads? European Police discover one in eight Irish drivers are drunk
Ireland's first alcohol free comedy club: Booz in the Nooz reports
Butt out Anglea Merkel: Ireland is having another drink