Findings on alcohol abuse in Donegal ‘stark’

THE new president of Atlantic Technological University (ATU) has described alcohol misuse findings in Donegal as “stark”.
Unveiling ‘Building a Safer Donegal: Free from Alcohol Harm’ in ATU on Tuesday, Dr Orla Flynn said the time had come for action.
The report findings reveal 58 per cent of students in Donegal and 53 per cent of adults have reported that they drink hazardously. Forty six per cent and 36 per cent, respectively, indicated that they had consumed six or more drinks on a single drinking occasion in the month previous to the study.
Almost a quarter of all participants across both groups felt someone in their household was a heavy drinker and almost one in five people (19 per cent) said someone else’s drinking had impacted them negatively in the past year.
The report, ‘Alcohol Consumption and attitudes to evidence-based alcohol policy in Donegal: Findings from a student and general adult sample’ was a collaborative approach between Alcohol Forum Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University.
“The findings that have been presented were very stark. Findings usually provide food for though and like many initiatives and issues in society, the time for digesting those is gone, the time now is for action.
“At our ATU launch two months ago in this very room, we flagged that the sustainability of our region and the well-being of our staff and student communities would be at the forefront of what we were going to be all about.
“When we look at sustainability of our region, many think of climate, education and access but actually the well-being of our region; the ability for people to thrive as individuals and as a community depends on us being healthy communities and us having access to well paid employment, access to culture and access to a good quality of life and I think many of the findings indicate that people who enjoy those things are less likely to be impacted by the overuse of alcohol.
“We live in a complex world. We know that the tourism sector is the largest employer in Ireland and we saw recently the launch of the apprenticeship in the tourism area in bar management. We walk a very difficult line at times in supporting the industries on which we depend for our livelihoods and being responsible in our obligation that we build on.”
Dr Flynn said as a new university ATU will not shirk its responsibilities in delivering a safe message regarding alcohol consumption.
“Education plays a huge role in this agenda and as a new technological university our aim will be to build on the strengths and leadership demonstrated in Donegal and ensure this becomes part of the wider agenda of the ATU.”
Dr Gillian Shorter, QUB, collaborated with Alcohol Forum Ireland on the survey in Donegal.
“Donegal does not exist in a vacuum. If we think about our alcohol use context in Ireland, on average in 2019, people aged 15 and over were drinking around 10.8 litres of alcohol. We’re talking about 40 bottles of vodka, 113 bottles of wine or 456 pints of beer.
“When we think about Donegal specifically and the wider context, the consumption isn’t massively different to the average in the rest of Ireland. Around 52 per cent in Ireland are hazardous drinking. Around 39 per cent of Ireland are drinking more drinks on occasion.”

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