Alcohol A Worldwide Dilemma

The extreme consumption of alcohol is becoming a problem on a universal scale, resulting in numerous social problems upsetting all walks of life. In northern Ireland the Chief Medical Officer - Dr Michael McBride has identified the common use of alcohol amongst the younger generation. In Northern Ireland children as young as 11 are consuming alcohol and by the age of 16 it is thought four out of five teenagers will have had an alcoholic drink of some type. Dr McBride proposes that the reason so many young people are turning to drink in Northern Ireland is to improve their social and sexual confidence and requests more awareness of the harm that alcohol can do.

Unfortunately excessive consumption of alcohol amid teenagers is having a harmful impact on communities across Northern Ireland primarily in urban areas. Within 2 years child crime has gone up by around 20% mainly fueled by alcoholic consumption involving children as young as seven. In contrast, burglary, vehicle crime and criminal damage have seen modest rises while alcohol-related offences have grown by as much as a third.

In Northern Ireland The Garda youth diversion programme has been put in place to reduce this anti social behavior with some positive results. Children suspected of crimes under this system are given the opportunity to redeem themselves by compensating or saying sorry to victims. Around 60-70% of the children have not re-offended inside the first year after being accepted into this venture.

Obviously these problems are not constrained to Northern Ireland and around the world countries are taking their own measures to tackle the social effects of alcohol-related incidents.

In recent years millions have been invested on an annual basis by drink companies in Kenya on measures to fight alcohol abuse, underage drinking and drink driving. Sales in of alcoholic beverages have soared and these companies have invested a lot in projects to try and stem the sometimes negative effect. Advertising, warnings on bottle labels and bartender training are just some of the ideas that have been put into practice.

The National Alcohol Beverages Association of Kenya (Nabak) working in conjunction with The Pubs Entertainment Restaurants Association of Kenya (Perak) have been guiding the drinking habits of Kenyans by persuading alcohol selling outlets to endorse sensible drinking. The outcome has been very positive resulting in a sizeable downward trend in underage drinking as a result of recent campaigns.

Other countries are using other methods in their battle to combat alcohol abuse. Australia has brought in restrictions in its Northern Territory, and in some towns photo identification must be produced when obtaining alcoholic drinks. These new procedures have not pleased everyone and some publicans have been subjected to insults, but on the whole the general belief amongst retailers is that this is a decisive move in the fight against the increasing social problems connected to alcohol.

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About The Author, Maria Tillinghous