Barnardos. (2003). ChildLinks Issue 1: Alcohol and Families. https://knowledge.barnardos.ie/handle/20.500.13085/847
The theme of this issue of ChildLinks is the misuse of alcohol in Ireland and its
detrimental impact on children, young
people and families. For many years the major
focus of concern was on underage drinking
and there can be no doubt that underage
drinking is a real and increasing problem as
indicated by recent research findings.
° Over half of Ireland's young people begin
experimenting with alcohol before the age
° Half of girls and two-thirds of boys age 16
years old drink regularly.
° One-third of | 6-year-olds report binge
drinking (defined as 5 or more drinks in a
row) 3 or more times a month.
However it also must be acknowledged that
alcohol consumption in the adult population
has increased significantly and Dr. Ann Hope
provides a useful summary of the recent
research data in her article "Protecting
Children and Adolescents: Is The Glass Half
Empty or Half Full?" The Irish are drinking more
than ever before, many adults drink excessively
when they drink and the consumption of
spirits has increased by over 51% mainly due
to the successful marketing of ‘alcopops’.
According to Dr. Hope the estimated cost of
alcohol related problems to Irish society is
€24 billion per annum, inclusive of health
services, road accidents, social welfare
payments, alcohol related crime and lost
productivity. The €2.4 billion figure does not
include the personal, emotional and financial
hardship suffered by individuals and their
families. Barnardos, as a leading provider of child and family support services, is only too well aware
of the detrimental impact of alcohol misuse on
children, young people and families. In
December 2002 Barnardos launched the
"Families Under the Influence" campaign which
aims to change the deep-rooted and damaging
culture of excessive drinking in Irish culture. As
part of the campaign Barnardos has recently succeeded in getting all political parties to sign
a pledge that they will always put the interests
of children first in matters to do with alcohol.
Other key recommendations of "Families
Under the Influence" include:
e An effective and enforced ban on alcohol
advertising aimed at youth audiences.
° Substantial resources to fund a range of
recreational facilities which would provide
young people with real alternatives.
° The replacement of alcohol sponsorship
° A major review and public debate on the
effectiveness of current under age drinking
measures. In this issue of ChildLinks Dr Ann Hope
provides an overview of the Department of
Health and Children's perspective on alcohol
and children. Dr Shane Butler provides a
summary of recent research data and debates
the problem of alcohol misuse in a social and
cultural context. A member of Al-Anon
provides interesting insights from personal
experience and Kerri Smith and Sarah
Meehan explore the issues from the
perspective of a child care and family support
service provider. Dr. Stephen Rowen presents
an insight into the treatment model offered by
the Rutland Centre and Dr. Hilda Loughran
provides a useful outline of 3 major
theoretical perspectives on alcohol problems.
A recurring theme referred to by many of the
contributors is the need for child care/child
protection services and addiction specialists to
collaborate. In particular Dr. Shane Butler
argues for the education and training of child
care professionals on the management of
It is hoped that this issue of ChildLinks will
inform child care professionals and contribute
to the ongoing debate on the problems of
and solutions to the misuse of alcohol.
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