Speaking in the EU Parliament today on a motion calling on the EU Commission to present a European Action Plan to provide better support for governments to fight against alcohol related harm, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said:
“This Action plan is designed to encourage prevention and health promotion and education, foster early diagnosis, improve access to treatment and provide continuous support to people and their families affected by alcohol related health and traffic accident issues.
“I therefore welcome this motion and am particularly pleased to see a call to strengthen measures which serve to raise awareness of binge drinking especially by under-age people.
“Harmful use of alcohol is the second largest lifestyle related cause of disease in our society and alcohol addiction is a risk factor in over 60 chronic diseases, including alcoholic liver disease (ALD), alcoholic chronic pancreatitis and almost all other digestive diseases, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and neuropsychiatric disorders such as alcohol dependence.
“Across Ireland and Britain there has been a recent drinking craze sweeping through social media networks such as Facebook known as ‘NekNominate’.
“It involves participants filming themselves downing large amounts of alcohol in a very short period of time and then nominating two of their friends to follow suit. Those who are nominated are pressurised to outdo the previous drinkers’ attempts and the videos have subsequently become more extreme and shocking.
“Unfortunately in recent weeks, two young men have lost their lives in Ireland taking part in these stunts.
“It is clear that a lot more must be done to tackle what has become a culture of binge drinking amongst the young and old alike. Indeed, events in Belfast last week when 60 young people had to be treated at the Odyssey concert arena by ambulance services or taken to A+E for excessive alcohol consumption, only serves to further the urgency of this issue.
“Governments and society both need a wake-up call and have a serious re-think about our attitude to alcohol. I hope this Action Plan is adopted by the EU Parliament and implemented by Member States.”