Alcohol has been a prominent issue since the country has a high percentage of alcohol consumption in Europe and all over the world. Alcoholism has continuously been increasing. It has been made possible by the availability of cheap alcoholic drinks in retail stores; thus everyone has easy access (5). Alcohol is also a significant part of the history of Ireland. It is also linked to prestige and joy. A recent survey carried out revealed that out of every ten people in Ireland, one is an alcoholic (5). With a population of over 4.7 million, this means that approximately 470,000 people are struggling with alcoholism. It also implies that there are roughly 470,000 unproductive people in the economy since addiction is a disease.However, the intake of alcohol by Irish folks is continually reducing. A study by the department of health showed a comparison of alcohol intake between 2001 and 2015 which revealed that the numbers have significantly dropped (6). It means that the society is slowly changing its attitude towards alcohol (6). More and more people realise the effects this powerful drug has on their lives, the lives of those around them and ultimately their country.
Health Problems Caused by Alcohol?
Another factor contributing to the societal change concerning alcohol consumption is the myriads of health risks involved. Ireland has a tradition of binge drinking and a significant amount of binge drinkers. This sort of drinking aims to drink to a point where one cannot drink any longer (1). It can cause alcohol poisoning which ultimately translates to death. When one engages in such drinking, rational thinking is lost, and one puts themselves in harm’s way. Ireland spends a significant amount of money in taking care of individuals who have injured themselves after taking too much alcohol. A study also revealed that half of the suicides in this country arise from alcohol. Drinking has also increased the number of people afflicted with liver diseases, particularly in the youth. It is a significant concern since traditionally youth are less prone to liver diseases (1). There has also been an increase in the rates of cancer resulting from alcohol abuse and more than half of these people die as a result of these cancers (8). The health risks that arise from alcohol abuse are irreversible.
Apart from causing harmful effects to the individual concerned, alcoholics also affects the lives of the individuals around them. First of all most road accidents in Ireland are as a result of drunk driving. Drunk drivers end up killing innocent people who are very sober. It also results in numerous drunken fights where drunken people end up injuring each other or even the death of one of the parties involved. Furthermore, another study also revealed that close to 1500 beds in the Ireland hospitals are occupied by patients whose main affliction is Alcohol every single day. Considering that hospitals are overcrowded in Ireland, these beds should have gone to other patients who did not bring the ailments upon themselves. It goes to show that alcohol ultimately undermines life.
Alcohols Impact on the Economy
Alcohol is the goose that laid the golden eggs for alcohol companies; however, it does not have much to contribute to the economy of Ireland. The alcohol industry is big business, and a recent study revealed that it provides approximately 2 billion euros to the economy (4). However, Ireland spends 1.5 billion Euros in catering to alcohol-related injuries. This amount of money does not include the ailments that arise from alcohol abuse such as cancer and liver cirrhosis that are also the government’s responsibility (3). Even when an individual does not go to work as a result of drunkenness, or alcohol-related injuries or ailments, they contribute to dragging the economy down. Fundamentally, the effects of alcohol on the economy cancel out the contribution of alcohol to the economy.
Government Attitude towards Alcohol
The Government of Ireland has installed many policies that regulate the drinking of alcohol, signifying that they do not support alcohol drinking. First of all, drinking hours have been reduced to monitor the intake of alcohol for each. One can only drink from 10; 00 am to 10; 00 pm. The government, with the help of the health department, initiated a strategy that will help reduce the intake of alcohol in Ireland (7). The first project was launched in 2005 and lasted till 2011 and assisted in awareness of the harmful effects of Alcohol. The second project was launched in 2011 to 2016 after the first project was revised that helped individuals keep track of their alcohol intake. With the help of this project, individuals were aided in transforming their drinking habits (7). If an individual consumes alcohol daily, the new target was to drink it weekly. Ultimately every journey begins with a single step.
The government also intensified its efforts by adopting the minimum unit pricing for Alcohol to strengthen their stance against alcohol consumption further. Minimum unit pricing is setting a limit which retailers cannot go below while selling alcohol. Minimum unit pricing is determined by the units of alcohol available in a drink (2). It means that the higher the concentration of alcohol in a bottle, the more expensive it would be. The government did this to regulate the buying of alcohol, especially for alcoholics who intake alcohol significantly. Also with the help of the Health Department, there is a helpline for individuals struggling with alcohol or those with questions concerning alcohol. In the end, the government is trying to rid Ireland off of alcoholism.
Overall, it may be said that Ireland has seen significant changes in how society views alcohol. Many individuals realise that as much as it has its roots in their history, it doesn’t always translate to their joy and happiness. It is because it has many harmful effects on the individuals and the Nation as well. These effects include injuries, which are self-inflicted or inflicted by other drunken people. It also causes ailments that are severely life-threatening with minimum chances of survival such as cancer. It has also led to unnecessary deaths resulting from drunk driving. The government also realised this and intensified its campaigns against alcohol. The government did this by putting in place regulations that will reduce the intake of alcohol. It was after analysing the contribution of alcohol to the economy and realising the harmful effects outweighed it. To further curb this plague, I would recommend that the government involve popular pop stars or actors who majorly influence many trends. With their help and influence, many people especially the youth, will reduce their intake of alcohol since they want to be like their favourite star. Alcohol has adverse effects, but when it taken in small amounts on particular occasions, it can induce happiness. Ultimately, alcohol is similar to fire, in the sense that is a bad master but a good servant.
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