Sunday 26 January 2020

Cheap booze a factor in two alcohol poisoning deaths a week

Call to fix prices of drinks
Call to fix prices of drinks

As the Christmas boozing season beckons, sobering new figures reveal that alcohol poisoning is now claiming two lives a week - fuelled in part by cheap drink.

Currently, spirits are discounted in some cases at 50pc beneath a minimum unit price and beer at 35pc.

Legislation passed over 400 days ago that outlaws low-price drink has still to be implemented.

Alcohol Action Ireland said the triggering of this law is now long overdue and it would go some way to "ensuring some families will still have their loved ones this time next year". Spokesman Eunan McKinney said that the latest data from the Health Research Board highlights yet again the extraordinary levels of harm, with alcohol responsible for over a third of all poisoning deaths.

This is equivalent to 125 deaths a year - or two a week.

He said: "Research data emerging from both Scotland and the Northern Territory in Australia demonstrate the capacity of this one measure to really make a significant impact on these continuing terrible outcomes from Ireland's corrosive relationship with alcohol.

"Early findings from Scotland indicate a 7.6pc reduction in retail alcohol sales, while the Northern Territory's Alice Springs hospital has witnessed a 54pc reduction in acute alcohol misuse admissions."

He added: "We cannot understand why government will not proceed with this crucial and proven step to reduce alcohol misuse.


"The current marketplace is demonstrating careless and reckless behaviour by the alcohol industry and its retail partners, with spirits being discounted in some cases at 50pc beneath a minimum unit price and 35pc discounting of beer.

"Three times since early summer there has been indications that the pricing measure would commence and yet we still have nothing. One can only conclude that at the heart of government there lies an ideological blockage to progress.

"By next Christmas, further lives will have been unnecessarily lost and homes impacted by alcohol harm."

According to the latest drug-related death figures from the Health Research Board, 376 people died in 2017 from overdose-poisoning deaths.

There were 410 deaths as a result of medical causes or trauma among people who use drugs-non-poisonings.

Commenting on the findings from the National Drug Related Death Index, Ena Lynn, Researcher Officer at the HRB, said: "More than one person died from overdose each day in 2017. They would typically be male, aged in their 30s or 40s and taking a mixture of drugs, such as methadone, alcohol, or benzodiazepines.

"A cocktail of drugs was present in three in five poisoning deaths. Mixing drugs is known to cause more complications and increases the risk of overdose as is evident here.

"There were 53 cocaine poisoning deaths in 2017. We found cocaine was often mixed with other drugs, in particular benzodiazepines and methadone. We hope this highlights cocaine risk."

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