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Ireland: Public urged to have honest conversations about alcohol

Ireland: Public urged to have honest conversations about alcohol

By Mike Gilmore
November 15, 2021

The European Union’s Alcohol Awareness Week runs from November 15th-21st.

New research shows many people in Ireland were leaning on alcohol to get through the pandemic.

People’s drinking habits shifted from bars to their own homes when we hit lockdown.

While people began drinking in the comfort of their own homes, concern had initially been raised on the negative toll it could take on one’s mental health. 

Citing that drink could compound feelings of loneliness or anxiety that were brought on by prolonged shutdowns of society.

While simultaneous worry has been expressed over the volume of alcohol being consumed at home, with people more likely to free-pour in this context, giving no mind to standard measures. 

While alcohol consumption increased, there’s also been a 30% increase in patients presenting at Beaumont with liver disease since the onset of Covid-19.

Professor of Comparative Immunology at Trinity College, Cliona O’Farrelly, explains the litany of negative health effects alcohol can cause on the body.

“New research is deepening our understanding of how alcohol disrupts our immune pathways in complex ways leading to infections, disease and impaired recovery from physical trauma.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has heightened our awareness of our immune system. Alcohol weakens our immune system functioning and affects a range of organs, thereby increasing the risk of viral infection, severity, recovery and long-term consequences.

“Heavy alcohol use increases the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), one of the most severe complications of COVID-19.”

This Alcohol Awareness Week the public is being encouraged to engage in meaningful conversations with their loved ones if they feel like they may have a problem with alcohol. 

CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland, Sheila Gilheany, says this could help someone to realise they need help.

“It is definitely worth talking to people. 

“Sometimes, you can be having a problem and you might not be fully aware yet yourself but if you talk to family or friends they may well be able to say ‘actually we’ve been a bit worried about the way you’re drinking’ because they see the impact, they see the effects.

“Perhaps an honest conversation is definitely helpful there.” 

The research also highlighted a correlation between increased alcohol intake in the home setting and a spike in incidents of domestic violence.