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Call for Minimum Pricing on Alcohol

Posted in Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol dependence is a serious condition, raising the risk of multiple physical ailments, as well as severely affecting the personal lives of those who suffer from it. Alcohol dependence is associated with a higher risk of multiple types of cancer, liver disease, and heavy episodic drinking can result in injury and risky sexual behaviors. Alcohol dependence can also erode both family and social relationships and negatively affect academic or professional achievement.

An assessment conducted by the National Confidential Inquiry in to Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness has shown that there is an increased risk of suicide for those who drink and have mental illness. The report is called "Suicide and Homicide in Northern Ireland."

The report has raised concerns about the connection between alcohol and suicide. The Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland has expressed their serious alarm at the report. Dr. Uzma Huda, Vice Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatristsin Northern Ireland, explained that the report calls attention to the growing trend showing a connection between alcohol and suicide, especially among young people.

The report showed that alcohol misuse was more commonly associated with suicide and homicide in Northern Ireland than it has shown to be in other parts of the United Kingdom.

Dr. Huda recommends that a minimum unit price be introduced for the sale of alcohol. While the action would have very little effect on those who drink alcohol in moderation, it could have a significant impact on heavy drinkers. It would especially affect younger people who engage in binge drinking. Dr. Huda was in full support of the recommendation made in the report that endorsed pricing as a key step towards a significant reduction in suicide rates.

Dr. Huda also expressed her satisfaction in noting that the report confirmed the low risk to the general public from mentally ill individuals living in the community. There was an overall increase of stranger homicides shown in the report, but there was not a single instance of a stranger homicide that involved a mentally ill person over eight years observed in the report. This information lends support to the evidence that shows that mentally ill people do not represent a significant risk to the public.

While the implementation of a minimum price on alcohol is only one of the key steps offered for the reduction of suicide in Northern Ireland, it is a measure that would have implications for the improvement of other risks associated with alcohol dependence as well. Setting a minimum price for alcohol would also positively impact the physical and personal risks associated with heavy alcohol consumption.