Alcohol & Drug Abuse causes mental health problems – Stormont Statement

Tuesday 8th April 2014

ADDRESSING THE NORTH/SOUTH  INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ASSOCIATION AT STORMONT DEPUTY DAN NEVILLE SPEAKING ON THE DEBATE ON ALCOHOL AND DRUG MISUSE STATED THAT:-

 “Alcohol and drug misuse can affect a person’s coping, managing and overcoming every day stresses and difficult life events such as unemployment and bereavement.”Alcohol and drug abuse contributes to the development of mental health problems as well as exacerbating present mental health difficulties.”

“In relation to suicide thoughts it can reduce the inhibitions enough for a person to act on these which may not have happened if the person was not under the influence of alcohol.  Suicide is the leading cause of deaths among young Irish men aged 15-24.  A recent European study showed that Ireland had the highest suicide rates in girls under 20 years of age and second highest in Europe in boys under 20 years of age.”

“There is a trend in Ireland and Britain in relation to how young people drink.

Binge drinking is a feature in both countries which is not prevalent in our European partner countries.”  “Alcohol particularly affects the areas of the brain for memory and impulse control in teenagers whose brains are still biologically developing.”

“Adolescence can be a challenging time as young people experience stresses and life difficulties for the first time.  Alcohol in those circumstances can render the individual particularly vulnerable to exploitation or danger.”

“The formulation of behaviours in young people in their practice of alcohol use can last a lifetime and adult heavy drinkers generally established their drinking patterns in their teens.”

“Despite the contribution alcohol plays in developing mental health problems little research has been done in Ireland to explore the reasons why we drink and how much this might link with rates of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and self-harm.”

“There are many factors involved in suicide.  The link of alcohol use in suicide has been well established.  Alcohol consumption is considered to be a significant influence on suicide rates of young men in particular.  Suicide is the leading cause of death among- young Irish men aged 15-24 years and more than one in three deaths in that age group is as a result of suicide.”

“A national study of youth mental health has found strong links between excessive drinking and suicidal behaviour.  This study also provided clear evidence that excessive drinking is associated with poor mental health and low self-esteem.”

“There are numerous reports highlighting the connection between alcohol use and suicide.  A study of three counties in Ireland of deaths by suicide found that more than half had alcohol in their blood and those aged less than 30 years were more likely to have had alcohol in their blood at the same time.”

The North/South Parliamentary Association is set under the Good Friday Agreement and consists of members from all parties in the Oireachtas and the Northern Ireland Assembly