Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Alcohol revealed as main gateway drug - News - Galway Independent

Alcohol revealed as main gateway drug

Posted on 31/01/2012
by Marie Madden

A new report from the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children shows that alcohol – rather than cannabis – is our main gateway drug.


That’s according to Labour City Councillor Niall McNelis, who said the Report on The Misuse of Alcohol and Other Drugs shows “how serious a problem we have to tackle”.


Cllr McNelis, who is also a member of the Galway Healthy Cities Committee, said that city resources are being wasted each night on alcohol related incidents at a time when services in the city and county are under-funded.


“Galway emergency departments, garda resources and youth mental health are all being affected,” he said. 


Cllr McNelis also suggested that people often think of cannabis as a gateway drug, but that is not necessarily true.


“In the process of compiling this report, the committee have clearly seen that the misuse of alcohol can be a slippery slope to moving on to other illegal drugs.


“The report recommends a ban on advertising heavily discounted alcohol products, and suggests that alcohol shouldn’t be advertised on TV before 9pm,” he said.


The report also advises that the Government should look at banning alcohol advertising on social networking websites, such as Facebook.


“We believe that advertisers are targeting people under the age of 18, and that has to stop,” said Cllr McNelis.


“Access to alcohol is also identified as a problem. We need to change the situation in Ireland whereby people can easily buy drink as part of their weekly shop - it’s a powerful drug and it’s too easily available.


“I want to see a situation where customers have to use a separate entrance if they’re going to the off-licence. You shouldn’t be able to buy a litre of vodka as easily as a litre of milk. We shouldn’t be able to buy alcohol by influence or by accident.


Another issue raised by the report identifies concerns in relation to prescribing patterns of benzodiazepines and Cllr McNelis has said it seems that there are cases where pills are being used to “sedate people, rather than tackling the wider social issues”.


“I would welcome feedback on this report from the various groups in Galway, be they retailers, publicans and the general public. What we have here are a set of suggestions as to how this government can tackle the problems with drink and drugs in this country. I am pleased to see the report published and now we have to work on seeing what recommendations can be carried out.”