Alcohol absorbed into the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract

 

Alcohol consumption is
commonly associated with social settings as a part of many cultures throughout
the world. One might consume alcohol in a controlled manner at gatherings,
business parties, weddings, and school functions, just to name a few.  However, the misuse of alcohol, where alcohol
is consumed in a harmful manner such as drinking until drunk or binge drinking,
threatens the individual’s health and in turn, may lead to death.

            Ethanol,
which is the chemical used in the manufacturing of alcoholic beverages, is a
sedative drug that is easily absorbed into the bloodstream through the
gastrointestinal tract (Perry et al.,
2017).  Perry et al. (2017) found that short-term
effects of alcohol consumption ranged from a slight loss in functional ability
and distorted vision and hearing in impaired drinkers; whereas, intoxicated
drinkers exhibited slurred speech, complete loss of manual dexterity, potential
vomiting, diarrhea, and unconsciousness. 
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Status Report on
Alcohol and Health (2014), the most common long-term effects of alcohol
consumption include cancer, cardiovascular disease, neuropsychiatric disorders,
liver damage, and gastrointestinal diseases.  In addition to direct effects on the
individual consuming the alcohol, alcohol misuse can also cause harm to the
individual’s family and society as a whole by means of child abuse or neglect,
sexual abuse, violence, and motor vehicle accidents. 

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            When
it comes to harmful drinking patterns, such as binge drinking, Ireland is
currently at the epicenter of this problem with 39% of all Irish people over
the age of 15 were found to have engaged in binge drinking over the past 30
days, second to only Austria (40.5%) (WHO, 2014).  Consuming alcohol in binge drinking fashion
accounted for 75% of the total alcohol consumed in Ireland (WHO, 2014).   According
to a survey conducted by the Health Research Board (HRB) (2014), three deaths
per day were found to be alcohol related in 2013, two deaths per day were due
to chronic health conditions and one death was due to poisoning or trauma.  Every month, 88 lives were claimed as a
result of alcohol related deaths as well as 50% of all suicides were found to
be linked in some way with alcohol consumption (HRB, 2014).  Another report by HRB (2016) found that between
1995 and 2013, a threefold increase in the rate of alcoholic liver disease discharges
from hospitals was observed.  The
National Cancer Strategy Report (2017) identified that in Ireland, alcohol
consumption is responsible for approximately 900 newly diagnosed cancers each
year.  In summary, Ireland is in a
serious dilemma when it comes to alcohol misuse and harmful drinking
patterns.  The remainder of this report
will be focused on outlining what policies have been implemented in order to address
the negative impacts of alcohol consumption and suggestions for additional
improvements in targeting this national problem. 

            The
Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion will be used as a framework for analyzing the
current government policies in place that have been aimed at reducing alcohol
consumption in Ireland.  In 1986, the
World Health Organization developed the Ottawa Charter as a guide to follow
when developing programs that target all determinants of health by ensuring
these programs emphasize health promotion (Ministry of Health, 2008).  Providing individuals and communities with
the necessary tools to increase their control over and improve their health and
wellbeing is the central strategy that health promotion entails (WHO, 2018). These
programs are aimed at building healthy public policy, creating a supportive environment,
strengthening community action, developing personal skills, and reorienting health
services (WHO, 2018). 

            Alcohol
Action Ireland (AAI) was established in 2003 with the goal of creating
nation-wide awareness of the effects of alcohol misuse on your health while
offering solutions that could reduce alcohol’s harmful effects (AAI,
2018).  The AAI website provides a great
means to obtaining all sorts of alcohol related facts such as the effects of
alcohol on health, alcohol and cancer, effect of alcohol and children, alcohol
and pregnancy, just to name a few.  Facts
are brought together from various surveys and reports conducted by WHO, HRB,
national cancer control program, etc. and are presented in a very user friendly
and simple manner making them easily accessible by the general public.  Some other key features of AAI are campaigns
for implementing policies to target alcohol consumption, as well as highlighting
various publications, reports, and news articles that all work towards reducing
alcohol harm.  Overall, this initiative
creates a very strong supportive environment while also striving to build
healthy public policy by means of campaigning for policies that will only
further strengthening Irelands attempt to distance itself from its current
unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

            In
2015, as an attempt to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland and the harmful
consequences associated with alcohol misuse, the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill was
established.  The Bill tackles this
problem by establishing policies that target the affordability