Press Release

Booze culture having serious effects on country’s mental health – O’Malley

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Mr Tim O’Malley TD, who has special responsibility for the Mental Health portfolio, today welcomed the passing in to legislation of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2004.  The purpose of this Act is to provide a clear statutory basis for the holding of alcohol free events for persons under the age of 18 years in licensed premises at a time when alcohol is not being sold.  Minister O’Malley is seeking to raise public awareness of the link between alcohol abuse and depression, especially among younger drinkers.  “Booze culture is having serious effects on this country’s mental health.  The link between alcohol and depression must be highlighted.”

Research now proves conclusively what was known anecdotally for a long time – that the heavy dependence on alcohol and culture of binge-drinking in this country is having serious consequences for the population’s mental health.

Minister O’Malley is seeking to raise public awareness of the issue, especially among younger people, and point out that a boozy weekend can leave young drinkers with much more than just a hangover.

“Medical research has proven a clear and definite link between the abuse of alcohol and depression, and has found that Ireland’s boozy culture is underpinning a rise in depression and suicide among our young people.”

“It is no coincidence that, as the heaviest drinkers in Europe, we also have an alarming rate of suicide, especially among our young people.  Researchers have discovered that the growth in the consumption of alcohol in Ireland over the last 10 years has been paralleled by a rise in the number of people suffering from depression.  The steady jump in drink sales has also been matched by an increase in the number of young people committing suicide.”

“Alcohol is a depressant and withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety attacks, feelings of depression and despair and even suicidal thoughts.  Binge-drinking increases the severity of these symptoms and a heavy night’s drinking can leave people feeling down and depressed for a number of days after.”

“In other words, the heavier the session, the more likely the person is to get depressed and the more likely they are to start drinking again, leading to a vicious cycle of alcohol dependency.”

“It is an issue which is frequently covered in the medical journals and specialist publications, but rarely mentioned in the mainstream media.  It must be given greater focus and attention.”

“Most of the recent debate on the effects of binge-drinking among our young people has focused on the public order side of things, on the consequences for people’s physical health and on the impact on our Accident and Emergency departments.  Little mention has been given to the damage our young people are doing to their mental health.  If people continue to drink and indulge at the current rate, we are going to have a serious mental health problem on our hands and very quickly.”

“We need to move to a situation where young people go out of a night for a pizza and a pint and not just to drink 10-12 pints.  It is the culture among our European neighbours and we need to encourage a similar culture here in Ireland.”

“The current pattern of heavy boozing through the weekend, followed by a period of high anxiety and depression, followed by more drinking will make us a nation of depressives in a very short space of time.”

“Young people in particular must be made aware of the serious damage heavy drinking can place on their mental health and how easy it is to become depressed, which will then only be exacerbated if the drinking continues.”