Alliance Call For Breakdown Of Taboo Surrounding Alcohol Addiction

The Alliance party is calling for an end to the stigma that surrounds alcohol addiction, after it was revealed that the number of deaths in Northern Ireland related to the problem has reached the highest on record.

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency released the figures for 2017 which showed a growth in the problem for the fourth consecutive year, with 303 people losing their life due to alcohol-related causes.

The figures show a 30 per cent rise over the past decade.

"It's sad to read these figures, not least given the poor quality of life the deceased will have experienced in the lead-up to their death," commented Paula Bradshaw, the party's Health Spokesperson.

"Anyone with relatives living with alcohol addiction will know how devastating and incredibly poignant the situation is, recognising so many opportunities lost in their lives to the pain and debilitation of addiction."
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The south Belfast MLA continued that the figures point to three crucial issues in society: "Firstly, we need to see the introduction of minimum unit price for alcohol, as has taken place in Scotland in 2018. However, for this we require a fully functioning Assembly. The Department of Health should commence an exploration exercise to scope this out, so when the Assembly returns, this could be brought forward as a matter of urgency. 

"Secondly, we need to recognise where there is a disproportionate number of these alcohol-related deaths in socially-deprived communities. With funding to community and voluntary groups working in these areas experiencing year-on-year cuts, the Departments for Communities and Health have to arrest this and start adequately resourcing those programmes with the experience and ability to support people living with alcohol addiction.

"Lastly, there is a wider need for society to recognise alcohol addiction as an illness, many times brought about through mental ill health, debt and family breakdown.

"It's time this taboo subject is given the compassion it deserves."


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