Alcohol Issues June 13 – June 17, 2022
This week’s Alcohol Issues highlights
- Migros supermarkets stay alcohol-free across Switzerland after cooperative members vote down proposal to introduce alcohol retail.
- Transnational corporate interests shape alcohol control policy in Vietnam, global public health largely absent.
- Big Alcohol reveals dependence on cheap alcohol in New Zealand, battles against alcohol tax rate adjustment to inflation rate.
This week’s most popular stories
- Common sense limit to alcohol availability in nightlife leads to reduction in assaults in Queensland, Australia.
- Alcohol policy takes center-stage during local elections in Cambodia, thanks to PDP Advocacy.
- Cross-border alcohol trade challenges between India and Nepal.
Most Popular on the News Center
Special Feature – No. 19
The Escalating Need for Alcohol Support Services Since the COVID-19 Pandemic
The products and practices of the alcohol industry during COVID-19, including heavy pandemic-centric marketing and relentless lobbying to weaken existing alcohol laws, fuelled a rise in alcohol use in many countries and its resulting harms, including an increase in alcohol use problems.
The rise in alcohol use problems including alcohol use disorders, dependence, and addictions has increased the demand for treatment and support services. However, many countries are struggling to meet this demand due to a lack of services and reduced capacities in existing services due to the pandemic.
A new survey found that in the United States 43% of adults who say they needed substance use or mental health care in the past 12 months did not receive the care they needed. Meanwhile, in Australia, the number of calls to the National Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Hotline has tripled since the pandemic began. Many of these people are calling due to an alcohol problem. Alcohol use accounts for a third of all AOD treatment in Australia.
Similar trends in rising alcohol problems and higher demand for alcohol support services have also been seen in Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, and other European countries since the pandemic began. Spain has specifically observed an increase in alcohol problems among women. In the UK, funding cuts to mental health and addiction services have exacerbated the problem and put children in households with alcohol problems in harm’s way.
Meanwhile in India heavy alcohol use by a smaller proportion of the population has increased during the pandemic. The need for alcohol support services was already dire in India before the pandemic. A 2019 report by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment reported that every third alcohol user in India needs help for alcohol-related problems. However, only about 1 in 38 people with alcohol dependence, report getting any treatment or help with alcohol problems.
It is crucial that governments invest in alcohol policy solutions while increasing funding for alcohol support services. There is promising research that brief interventions delivered in general medical settings or primary care can reduce alcohol use problems. If demand for support services continues to increase services will not be able to keep up. Hence, policy solutions to prevent alcohol use problems are a necessity. The World Health Organization’s recommended best buys of limiting availability, increasing prices, and banning alcohol ads, sponsorship, and promotions are cost-effective, high-impact, proven alcohol policy solutions to prevent alcohol harm and protect people’s health and well-being.
The Alcohol Issues Podcast
S2 E9: Achieving the SDGs Through Alcohol Policy: European Countries Ignore The Potential
In this episode, Kristina Sperkova talks with guest host Pierre Andersson about her brand new research article that investigated if and how European countries address alcohol as an obstacle to development in their efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Kristina and Pierre discuss the evidence of how alcohol impedes sustainable development, and what countries are doing about it. They also talk in detail about the findings of her study that show flawed understanding of alcohol harm leads to lost potential in using alcohol policy as a catalyst for sustainable development – and what concretely means in European countries.
Kristina Sperkova is the International President at Movendi International. She is the lead author of the peer-reviewed research article “Alcohol policy measures are an ignored catalyst for the achievement of the sustainable development goals” that she co-authored with Peter Anderson, and Eva Jané Llopis.
Pierre Andersson is the Policy Advisor for Alcohol and Development at the IOGT-NTO Movement, from Sweden. The IOGT-NTO Movement is a Swedish development organization that works for poverty eradication by supporting partners to tackle alcohol as an obstacle to development. Pierre has extensive experience is journalism as well as development work.