A CORK-based addiction therapist has expressed concern at the extended closure of the country’s pubs under new guidelines issued by the Government.
Michael Guerin, an addiction therapist at Cuan Mhuire addiction treatment centre, said the statement made by Taoiseach Micheál Martin that pubs may not reopen this year “could see the continuation of alcohol abuse and problem drinking”.
“I think the result of the pubs not opening is that we could possibly see a continuation of alcohol abuse and problem drinking simply because alcohol is cheaper out of off licences and there is no portion control. One of the things we need to look at is minimum unit pricing in Ireland because where they have introduced it, alcohol-related harm has been significantly reduced.
“And one of the greatest examples of that was in Australia where they introduced minimum unit pricing and A&E admissions due to alcohol-related matters was reduced by a third in a year. You can buy an awful lot of strong alcohol for small money in supermarkets,” he said.
Mr Guerin said “you couldn’t but feel sympathy for the publicans whose livelihoods are being eroded by the day as a result of lockdown” and that pub culture will take a battering because “even if the pubs were to reopen tomorrow, a lot of people who would have been pub drinkers who now may be used to taking a drink at home may not go back to the pub with the same enthusiasm”.
Cuan Mhuire is currently at full capacity and intaking residents “at full tilt subject to all the NPHET guidelines regarding isolation and physical distancing”.
Mr Guerin said that demand has never been as high and believes that the further closure of pubs does not necessarily affect the alcohol-dependent population who are not solely dependent on public houses to feed their habit, but instead would purchase alcohol at an off licence or supermarket.
“There needs to be some sort of control. There is a control in pubs insofar as if the bartender forms the opinion that you have had enough to drink, he can and will refuse to serve you. But you can go into a supermarket and buy large amounts of drink and nobody would say a word to you,” he said.