One in five admit ‘alcohol-related harms’ in Galway survey

Some 44% find it acceptable to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to consume alcohol at home

One in five people admitted to “alcohol-related harms” due to their drinking habits in a new survey of alcohol use in Galway city.

Over half of those who participated in the Health Service Executive (HSE) sponsored survey have "hazardous" drinking habits, while 18 per cent of respondents believe it is "acceptable" to give a 15-year-old child alcohol at home.

Some 44 per cent of respondents think it is acceptable to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to use alcohol at home.

The behaviour, attitudes and awareness survey by the Galway Healthy Cities Alcohol Forum involved more than 500 participants aged over 18.


Particular concern

HSE health promotion and improvement official Fiona O’Donovan said the level of alcohol-related harm to individuals and others is of particular concern, with one in five (20 per cent) reporting one or more harms due to their own drinking.

These “harms” ranged from accidents and fights to problems in work, friendships and home lifes, she noted.

She said one in four (25 per cent) of all respondents reported experiencing “one or more harms as a result of someone else’s drinking - family problems (15 per cent) being the most common”.

“Although adults consider underage drinking as the number one problem in Galway city, worryingly many believe that it’s acceptable to give alcohol to 15- 17-year-olds at home,”she said.

Minimum pricing

She said evidence shows that the most effective policies to reduce alcohol-related harm include minimum pricing for alcohol, restricting its availability and reducing its promotion.

She said it was “ very positive to note that 74 per cent of survey respondents were in favour of a ban on alcohol advertising that appeals to young people”.

Some 62 per cent of respondents agreed there should be a minimum price for alcohol below which it could not be sold.

The survey found 85 per cent of respondents in Galway city agreed health professionals should ask all patients about their drinking habits as standard practice, yet only 24 per cent were asked about their drinking habits in the past two years.

Ms Donovan said the local survey had a national perspective, as the findings “further highlight the need for the evidence-based measures outlined in the new Public Health Alcohol Bill”.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times