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Almost one in five Galway people think it is acceptable to give fifteen-year-olds alcohol at home

The findings of the Galway City Alcohol Survey reveal 18 per cent of people think it is acceptable to give a child aged 15 alcohol at home while 44 per cent believe it is OK to give 16 to 17 year-olds alcohol in their homes. Sixteen per cent believe it is all right to buy alcohol for them.

Commenting on the study Fiona Donovan of the HSE’s health promotion and improvement department, said although adults consider underage drinking as the number one problem in Galway city “worryingly” many believe that it is acceptable to give alcohol to 15-17 year olds at home.

The survey outlined that 79 per cent of the Galway city population consumed alcohol in the past year. Among drinkers, 60 per cent were weekly drinkers - a greater number of men and younger adults (18 to 34 years ) drank weekly. Some 42 per cent of drinkers reported drinking more than six standard drinks on a typical drinking day with the highest level (70 per cent ) among younger men.

Overall 55 per cent of drinkers were hazardous drinkers. This issue was highest among younger men (77 per cent ) and younger women (60 per cent ). More than two thirds of drinkers reported drinking enough to feel drunk in the past 12 months while one third of younger men (32 per cent ) and 27 per cent of younger women reported drunkenness on a weekly basis.

A key finding of the study, in which 500 people aged 18 and over were surveyed last year, was the similar rate of alcohol related harm that was reported for men and women. One in five reported one or more harms due to their own drinking (accidents, fights, problems at work, friendship, home life, health problems ). The rate was similar across genders with two exceptions - fights and problems at work - which were higher among younger men.

Those who were hazardous drinkers increased their risk of experiencing assaults or being a passenger with a drunk driver.

One in four of all respondents reported experiencing one or more harms as a result of someone else’s drinking with family problems being the most common. A total of 39 per cent of people surveyed reported knowing a heavy drinker. Of those almost two in every five said they were negatively affected in the past 12 months.

The study indicated that the most popular settings for drinking on a weekly basis were at home (38 per cent ) and in a pub/bar (36 per cent ). Dri 186346257 nking at a friend’s house was more popular among younger adults (61 per cent at least monthly ).

The publication illustrates there is an urgent need to reduce risky drinking (hazardous drinking and drinking to intoxication ) in particular among young men and younger adults in Galway city. It also highlights that the impact of common risky drinking patterns are felt not only by the drinkers themselves but also by those around them, ie family, friends or strangers.

It outlined the need for increased awareness among adults of the risk to children from alcohol, also that alcohol can cause several cancers and called for reduced exposure of alcohol marketing (outdoors ) in the city to protect children.

Other recommendations included in the report were the need to increase enforcement of the minimum age for alcohol sales and to address the “inconsistent” attitudes and practices of adults who consider that underage drinking and teenagers drinking on the street or in parks are the main problems in the city yet facilitate underage drinking by giving alcohol to youths.

Thanking all the people who took part in the survey, Ms Donovan said that this local perspective on alcohol behaviour and attitudes is valuable in terms of focusing on preventing and reducing alcohol-related harm in Galway city.

“From a national perspective, the findings further highlight the need for the evidence based measures outlined in the new Public Health Alcohol Bill to be implemented to address the high levels of alcohol-related harm seen across all counties in Ireland.”

The survey was initiated by the Galway Healthy Cities Alcohol Forum as part of the Galway Healthy Cities Project and is funded by the Health Promotion and Improvement Department of the HSE.

Galway Advertiser     30 June 2016