76% of people treated for alcohol are jobless

THE effects of the recession are biting hard, with a massive jump in unemployment among people seeking treatment for alcohol.

A report published by the Health Research Board found 76% of people in alcohol treatment in 2010 were out of work — up from 60% in 2005.

“We can see the effect of the recession on the number of people employed, dropping from 40% in 2005 to 24% in 2010,” said report co-author Dr Suzi Lyons.

She predicted the consequences of the recession would become more apparent in the coming years.

The report, entitled Treated problem alcohol use in Ireland, showed the steady fall in employment among clients over the period, from 39% in 2005 and 2006, dropping to 35% in 2007, 31% in 2008, 27% in 2009 and 24% in 2010.

The report states the average employment rate during the six-year period (32%) compared to 58% in the national population.

“The employment rate was lower among previously treated cases (25%) than among new cases (37%),” it states.

“This suggests that prolonged problem alcohol use may lead to loss of employment, or alternatively, the factors associated with failed treatment (or chronic addiction) are similar to those associated with failure to secure or retain employment.”

The report shows a slight change in the gender breakdown, with the percentage of male clients falling from 69% in 2005 to 65% in 2010.

The study shows 40% of clients were drinking daily, with a further 34% consuming alcohol two to six times a week.

The majority (81%) of cases reported problem use of alcohol only. It said 20% of clients reported using other drugs with alcohol between 2005 and 2008, dropping to around 17% in both 2009 and 2010.

Fiona Ryan of Alcohol Action Ireland said: “The fact is the way we drink alcohol and the amount we drink causes serious problems and we have the evidence here in this research.”

She said a lot of the suffering experienced by families on a daily basis was hidden and not reflected in the data. “The nature of the problem is that many people are not coming in contact with services. Only when families reach crisis point do they contact treatment services. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Katryn D’Arcy of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland said they would review the report in detail, adding that overall alcohol consumption has been declining steadily in Ireland since its peak in 2001. She said consumption declined dramatically between 2008 and 2010 and that Irish consumption is approaching European norms.

Ms D’Arcy said the falling consumption provided a “real opportunity” to target alcohol misuse and said the industry fully supports responsible drinking.

*For more informtion, see hrb.ie, drinkhelp.ie and drinkaware.ie.

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