Addiction NI is a Northern Ireland based drug and alcohol treatment charity and has seen the number of clients double in the last five years. Dr. Armstrong showcased her insights to the Health Minister on alcohol consumption levels and the rising levels of alcohol related harm. As a treatment charity “on the ground” Addiction NI is quick to identify new trends in alcohol consumption and behavioural patterns.
Dr Claire Armstrong, Director of Addiction NI stated “Alcohol is becoming an increasing problem as more people drink within their own homes rather than in a social setting. Therefore the problems and dependency on alcohol can be hidden from view.”
“Alcohol abuse is increasing across all demographics as alcohol is more accessible and cheaper than ever before. Addiction NI was established thirty three years ago and in that time the price of alcohol has fallen by 65%. I am interested to see if a price per unit strategy will affect alcohol consumption, but any measures to address alcohol issues should be considered, to discard any suggestions would be irresponsible. As a treatment charity we know that something must be done and the time is now.”
The Health Minister Edwin Poots stated that: "Alcohol Awareness Week is an important opportunity to raise issues related to alcohol misuse across Northern Ireland. I want to be very clear, addressing the harm related to alcohol and drug misuse in Northern Ireland remains a key priority for my Department, and for me personally.
Estimates put the social costs of alcohol misuse at up to £900 million. However, these figures do not bring to life the individual tragedies that alcohol has on individuals, families and communities across Northern Ireland.
“Therefore, I want to use this opportunity to recognise the impact that organisations in the voluntary and community sector who work with those affected by substance misuse have. It is a difficult but important job, and the people working in this field make a real difference to the lives of many individuals who misuse alcohol and drugs – and indeed to the wider community affected by substance misuse.
Addiction NI estimates that around 70% of their work is with those with alcohol misuse issues. This further reinforces the scale of the problem, and reinforces my commitment to dealing with the issue. Addiction NI are right to highlight the affordability and accessibility of alcohol – and this is an issue I’m looking at closely with my colleagues in the Executive”.
Alcohol misuse is a major and growing issue and is now the third leading cause of ill health and premature death in Northern Ireland. It is hoped that Alcohol Awareness Week will highlight to the public the health risks associated with alcohol and will help people re-evaluate their high levels of alcohol consumption.