Cyprus’ first ever Alcohol Awareness Week was launched yesterday with the aim of encouraging people to talk about the health risks, social problems and stigmas related to excessive drinking.
Speaking during a conference to mark the initiative, President of the Cyprus Anti-Drugs Council (CADC) Dr Chrysanthos Georgiou said it is time for people in Cyprus to start taking alcohol addiction as seriously as addiction to narcotics and other dangerous substances.
“Alcohol consumption can have an extremely serious impact on health and is a very real threat in Europe where 23 million people suffer from full-blown addiction and 58 million drink over the recommended limit,” said Georgiou.
According to Georgiou, the above data is a great concern for the European Union as is evident from the inclusion of alcohol in the 2013–2020 European Strategic Plan against legal and illegal addictive substances which have serious socio-economic impacts. “The implementation of a national strategy plan in Cyprus which includes alcohol proves that society has matured and has accepted to an extent that excessive drinking can have a serious impact on the addict and family,” said Georgiou.
“The ultimate goal is for us to be able to identify and treat this addiction for the benefit of public health.” Although alcohol consumption in Cyprus is lower than in some European countries, certain attitudes in society are cause for serious concern.
According to CADC survey data, driving after having consumed two units of alcohol in Cyprus is considered acceptable and safe while one in four of young people aged between 14-25 have consumed more than six drinks in one sitting.
In addition, between 2004 and 2010, 526 alcohol related deaths were recorded in Cyprus accounting for 2% of all deaths on the island. Moreover, according to recent police data half of all fatal road crashes on the island are alcohol related.