Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative launches Alcohol/Drugs Handbook
As a priority alcohol should not be a sponsor of sporting events or sporting organisations.
Public policy at an all-island level should be coordinated, consistent and reflect the seriousness of this issue. It is necessary to reduce the alcohol/blood level to 50mg, North and South. – Bishop Éamonn Walsh
Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor, today launched ‘Alcohol/Drugs Handbook, How to forma parish response to alcohol/drug issues‘ at a seminar in Drumalis Retreat and Conference Centre, Larne, Co Antrim. The seminar was organised by the Irish Bishops’ Drugs and Alcohol Initiative (IBDI) and speakers included Bishop Éamonn Walsh, Vice-chairperson of the IBDI, representatives from parishes, public health authorities, police service, Forum Against Substance Abuse, the Family Support Network, Inter-Church Addiction Project and the IBDI.
Bishop Treanor said “Today’s seminar is a statement of Christian hope in the face of addiction. We bring together women and men of both practical and scientific experience in responding to, and treating addiction to alcohol and drugs.
“Today’s speakers have empowered community groups and individual addicts to conquer and manage addiction. The contributors did not spare us the harsh reality of the extent, complexity and challenge of addiction that we know only too well in the parishes that we serve.
“The IBDI manifests the Church as the unity of the people of God at work in society; here bishops, priests, religious and laity unite in outreach and service, learn from each other and develop further faith-based responses to lived predicaments. The IBDI engages in partnership with secular initiatives promoting the same end.”
Bishop Treanor highlighted recent research on alcohol and drug misuse:
-In Ireland there has been a 50% increase in the number of professionals and executives seeking cocaine treatment between 2005 and 2008 (ref Austin Prior, Rutland Centre, Dublin);
– In Northern Ireland, drug prevalence rates amongst young people have climbed significantly since the mid-1990s. There is no evidence of a reduction in illicit drug use among those under 25 with alcohol consumption and binge drinking on the increase (ref H Parker, Better Managing Northern Ireland’s Alcohol and Drugs Problems);
– According to the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine six out of ten heroin addicts undergoing treatment have parents who abused alcohol.
Bishop Treanor concluded “The EU Drugs Action Plan (2009 – 2012) provides for a European Commission initiative, the European Alliance on Drugs. Its aim is to mobilise the public and raise awareness of the dangers of drugs, particularly among young people. It is worth exploring its possibilities by contacting the Commission offices in Dublin or Belfast.”
Bishop Walsh said “We are our sisters and brothers keeper and everyone is equal in the eyes of God. We must therefore challenge ourselves to be good neighbours and support those, and their loved ones, who are suffering from the consequences of alcohol and/or drug misuse.
“Today’s seminar is a special day for cross-border cooperation in combating the damage caused by the misuse of alcohol and the scourge of illicit drugs. Parishes can share their experiences while developing a consistent response to such community problems using resources already available to them.
“Having established ways of letting people know that local help and support is available for those who need it, our key objective must then be to promote alternative ways of entertainment and enjoyment for young people in our communities, ways that do not require mood altering substances such as alcohol and other drugs.
“At national level action must also be taken to confront seriously the misuse of alcohol and illegal drugs and their negative influence on our culture. The IBDI supports the Road Safety Authority’s call to “never ever drink and drive”. Public policy at an all-island level should be coordinated, consistent and reflect the seriousness of this issue. It is necessary to reduce the alcohol/blood level to 50mg, North and South.
“The IBDI is also campaigning against all advertising of alcohol. As a priority alcohol should not be a sponsor of sporting events or sporting organisations. Such a bold move would have financial implications for drink companies, sporting organisations and the revenue authorities, however the status quo is simply not a sustainable option.”
Bishop Walsh concluded “We all have a responsibility to address the issue of rural life style such as isolation, sadness and despair. It is a fallacy to assert that social life in Ireland happens only in conjunction with alcohol consumption. The sensible consumption of alcohol could be supported through neighbourliness and common sense, We must be creative by, for example, providing for local transport or by designating drivers in advance.”
- The Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative (IBDI) was established in 1997 as a Church response to the growing problem of drug and alcohol misuse in Ireland. Throughout the following decade, the IBDI organised a number of events including a network of national contacts for addiction support. IBDI related publications include Breaking the Silence, Beyond Maintenance and the Bishops’ Conference pastoral letter Alcohol: The Challenge of Moderation, which was published in the English, Irish and Polish languages for Lent 2007.
- In November 2007 Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor launched a dvd produced by the IBDI called Find the Balance: Dare to Dream. The Find the Balance: Dare to Dream DVD, which is aimed at secondary schools, explores the concept and relevance of balance and moderation in the choices that we make everyday, with specific reference to alcohol consumption. Five true-life stories are presented in the DVD alongside commentary from young people, with a view to encouraging debate and helping to foster a culture of moderation amongst young people.