Overview and Context

Alcohol use is an important health issue in Ireland, 81% of Dubliners have drunk alcohol in the past year, with 60% of these drinkers drinking at least once a week (Healthy Ireland Survey 2015). In the year prior to the Healthy Ireland survey, just over half of drinkers consumed the equivalent of six or more standard drinks on one drinking occasion – this is viewed as a binge drinking experience. Over one in ten drinkers stated that during the last year they have regretted something that they said or did after drinking.  In Ireland over half of young people aged 10–17 report never having had an alcoholic drink (State of the Nation’s Children 2016). However just over one in ten young people in Dublin report being drunk in the last 30 days. The rate of young people’s self-reported binge drinking episodes was 7% higher than adults, with 61% of young people in Dublin reporting an experience of this in the last year. 

These findings are generally supported by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol – Drug Prevalence Survey 2015, which found that 20% of 17-year olds or younger, in the South Western RDTF area, had drunk in the last year, with 44% having ever drunk – these figures were both slightly higher than the national average.

In the South Western RDATF Area in 2015, 288 received treatment for problematic alcohol use, while 259 received treatment for any substance use (NDTRS database). Both areas had less people seeking treatment per 1000 people in the population than the national average. 

Reflecting the focus of healthy Ireland this section of the plan has a primary focus on alcohol use, however given their intertwined nature, some actions also involve supports for people with drug use related issues.  The following are the key issues relating to alcohol affecting the community in South Dublin County.

  • Dual Diagnosis and complex needs – There is a lack of wrap-around services with staff expertise to address more than one issue at a time. Complex needs are often not meet by services that are too narrowly focused, there is also a need for ongoing preventative work
  • Social drug and alcohol culture – Social alcohol consumption and binge drinking is ingrained in the culture in Ireland. Anecdotally there has also been a recent rise in recreational cocaine use, particularly with women
  • Continuum of care challenges: homelessness – high levels of alcohol, drug use and mental health issues exist in the homeless population
  • Family supports needed – There is a need for more knowledge on the impact of parents’ addiction on children. Parents need support to respond to their children’s alcohol and drug use. Substance use can also be normalised within the family unit
  • Need for lower severity services – There is a lack of services or programmes to support early stage problematic alcohol and drug use in young people 
  • Funding challenges – Alcohol was added to the remit of the Drugs Task Forces without any additional funding to support actions 
  • Alcohol use in pregnant women and foetal alcohol syndrome is an issue requiring additional support 
  • Ease of purchasing alcohol for young people locally, it is relatively easy for young people to purchase alcohol locally 
  • Need for culturally appropriate services for Travellers and new communities – There is a need for culturally appropriate drug and alcohol services for key populations within South Dublin County
  • Need for alcohol free activities locally – there is a need to ensure there is a variety of pro-social, alcohol-free activities available in the area