cover art for Harnessing our health data. If we don't measure it, we can't manage it.

Alcohol Uncovered

Harnessing our health data. If we don't measure it, we can't manage it.

This podcast marks the launch of a policy paper from Alcohol Action Ireland | University College Cork, which draws attention to the rich store of alcohol related data in the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) database.

The podcast features speakers from public health research and advocacy including Dr Zubair Kabir (UCC School of Public Health), Anne Doyle (Health Research Board) and Dr Lesley Graham and Ms Elinor Jayne, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP).

This podcast and the research on the alcohol burden in Ireland as demonstrated by GBD data have been supported by the Irish Research Council under a New Foundations Grant.

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  • Protecting Children from Alcohol Advertising Online

    Online safety for children is a huge issue in our digital society and here at Alcohol Action Ireland we want to shine a light on how damaging digital advertising of harmful commodities, such as alcohol, can be. Currently in Ireland, through a new body called Coimisiún na Meán, we are developing new online safety rules for video sharing platform services, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tik Tok and others. Today, we hear how we should protect children and their rights in this digital era. Our expert guests are human rights lawyer and Online Safety Coordinator for the Children's Rights Alliance, Noeline Blackwell, and director of the Center for Digital cultures and Societies at the University of Queensland, Associate Professor in the School of Communication and arts, Nicholas Carah. THINGS WE SPOKE ABOUT● How we can protect children from harmful advertising ● Dark advertising of alcohol that targets children ● The most important things for regulators to consider ● Why we need to listen to the voices of young people ● Taking pressure from parents and placing it on politcians  GUEST DETAILSNoeline Blackwell is a human rights lawyer who joined the Children’s Rights Alliance in November 2023 as Online Safety Co-ordinator. Prior to that, Noeline was CEO of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre for almost 8 years and was previously Director of FLAC, the Free Legal Advice Centres. Noeline also spent a number of years in general practice, with a particular focus in immigration, refugee and family law. She has been a member of a number of statutory and NGO boards. She currently chairs the Independent Patient Safety Council and the Child Law Project. She was appointed as a member of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in 2023. Nicholas Carah is Director of Digital Cultures & Societies in the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Arts. He is an Associate Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society, and a Chief Investigator on ARC Discovery and Linkage projects. In 2023 they are Deputy Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Nicholas' research examines the algorithmic and participatory advertising model of digital media platforms, with a sustained focus on digital alcohol marketing. He is the author of Media and Society: Power, Platforms & Participation (2021), Brand Machines, Sensory Media and Calculative Culture (2016), Media and Society: production, content and participation (2015), Pop Brands: branding, popular music and young people (2010). And, co-editor of Digital Intimate Publics and Social Media (2018) and Conflict in My Outlook (2022). Nicholas has also been involved in research projects on alcohol-related harms and nightlife culture and the use of digital media in fostering cultural change in drinking culture. Nicholas is a Director and Deputy Chair of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education. MORE INFORMATIONRead our submission regarding Ireland’s online safety code. If you are looking for support visit To find out more about Alcohol Action Ireland visit alcoholireland.ieKEYWORDS#children #regulation #advertising #alcohol #online 
  • Alcohol Availability Amplifies Abuse

    New studies have shown a strong connection between alcohol and a rise in domestic abuse reports. With new legislation in Ireland seeking to liberalise alcohol opening hours and density of licensed premises, who is looking out for those impacted by domestic abuse?Today we take a look at the dangers of increased trading hours and alcohol availability and ask are policy makers really staying true to their zero tolerance policy for domestic abuse, or are commercial influences winning over?Our experts today are working tirelessly in research and policy to show the detrimental effects of alcohol availability, they are Dr. Frank Houghton of Technological University of Shannon, Limerick and Michala Kowalski, a PhD candidate at the Social Policy Research Centre studying the night-time alcohol policy ecosystem in New South Wales, Australia. THINGS WE SPOKE ABOUT●       The risks of the sale of alcohol bill●       Research on the night time economy and domestic violence report rates●       Does profit trump people when it comes to alcohol policies?●       Pushing for better recording of data and research●       How domestic violence can be fueled by alcohol GUEST DETAILSDr Frank Houghton, Technological University of the ShannonMichala Kowalski is a Scientia PhD candidate at the Social Policy Research Centre, studying the night-time alcohol policy ecosystem in New South Wales MORE INFORMATIONIf you are looking for support visit To find out more about Alcohol Action Ireland visit alcoholireland.ieQUOTESThe government appears to have undercut an awful lot of these advances with this new sale of alcohol bill. My concern is there's significant international evidence which clearly demonstrates that increased alcohol license, retail density inevitably increases violence, and also intimate partner violence or domestic violence. I am having huge trouble trying to marry these two conflicting approaches from government. - Dr. Frank HoughtonWe also have the issue that the normalization. Alcohol is just a normal part of our society, it's just the standard. And I think that's hugely, hugely worrying. - Dr. Frank HoughtonWe do see this strong connection between rates of family and domestic violence and alcohol availability. So I think it's more about the frequency, and aggravating and exacerbating type of circumstance in the environment. The trading hours I was looking at was two hours, 29% reduction for two hours of late night drinking. Even that can have a really big difference. - Michala KowalskiKEYWORDS#alcohol #domesticviolence #ireland #domesticabuse #health
  • Commercial Influence on Alcohol Consumption

    We are exposed to alcohol advertising everyday, and unfortunately the main target audience is often those most vulnerable to alcohol harm. Today we shed light on an important but overlooked issue - how the alcohol industry shapes our culture, policies and even our health. You'll gain a new understanding of how marketing imbeds harmful norms and the shocking power that the industry has at policy making level. Our guests today are Dr. Norah Campbell, lecturer in critical marketing at Trinity Business School, and Dr Nason Maani, lecturer in Inequalities and Global Health Policy at The University of Edinburgh, and co-author of The Commercial Determinants of Health. THINGS WE SPOKE ABOUT●      What are the commercial determinants of health●      The mythmaking of alcohol advertising ●      How we can overcome regulation challenges ●      Industries use regulation as an opportunity for innovation ●      Mythmaking and manipulation of data ●      Media responsibility to prevent alcohol harm ●      Political influence of the alcohol industry GUEST DETAILSDr Nason Maani is a Lecturer in Inequalities and Global Health Policy at The University of Edinburgh. Nason's research interests centre on the structural and commercial determinants of health, with a special interest in how they shape public understanding and policy. This includes primary research on the alcohol, sugar sweetened beverage, firearm, social media, and fossil fuel industries, as well as policy research on the relationships between underinvestment, commercial influence and inequity. He hosts Money Power Health, a podcast on the commercial drivers of ill health.He has served as a consultant and expert for the WHO on the commercial determinants of health, and is an editor alongside Sandro Galea and Mark Petticrew of the book "The Commercial Determinants of Health", released by Oxford University Press. Dr. Norah Campbell is lecturer in critical marketing at Trinity Business School. Her teaching is in management theory, and science and technology studies. Her research interests are in nano-bio-info-cogno markets, climate change, and the food industry. This work has been published in both science journals (Nature Nanotechnology) and social science journals (Science, Technology and Human Values).MORE INFORMATIONDr Nason Maani book entitled “The Commercial Determinants of Health” you are looking for support visit To find out more about Alcohol Action Ireland visit alcoholireland.ieKEYWORDS#alcoholindustry #health #marketing #commercialdeterminants
  • End the Silence - Children of Parental Problem Alcohol Use

    End the Silence is an initiative to raise awareness of issues arising from growing up with parental problem alcohol use.In Ireland, an estimated 271,000 children under 15 years of age are living with parents who are regular risky drinkers. This can lead to social and emotional issues for vulnerable children.Today we hear the importance of giving these young people a voice, and what kind of support they actually want when they’re struggling. Our experts are Research Associate at the Population Health Sciences Institute, Newcastle University, Dr Cassey Muir, who’s recent doctoral research explored these support needs of children and young people. We also have Chartered Clinical Psychologist with Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health in Ireland, Dr. Cian Aherne who works with young people through the Power Threat Meaning Framework. THINGS WE SPOKE ABOUTLived experiences of young people affected by parental problem substancesWhat help young people actually want Working with young people using the Power Threat Meaning Framework The importance of the young person’s voice Helping young people understand their own story Removing stigma and isolation The power of One Good Adult Tools and training to support young people MORE INFORMATIONIf you are looking for support visit To find out more about Alcohol Action Ireland visit alcoholireland.ieEnd the Silence Campaign: DETAILS Dr Cassey Muir is a Research Associate at the Population Health Sciences Institute, Newcastle University, UK. Her research aims to improve the health and social needs of vulnerable children and families. Cassey’s recent doctoral research explored the support needs of children and young people whose parents use alcohol and other drugs.Dr. Cian Aherne is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist. He is a Clinical Manager for Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health in Ireland. Cian’s background and interests are in critical psychology, social justice and social constructionism. Cian is a proud Limerick man and an avid sportsman. He is married and is the father of 4 young children.QUOTESOne of the main findings from this is that a lot of children and young people reported experiencimg a great deal of uncertainty across many different aspects of their life. This was very much linked to their parents fluctuation and substance use and the moods and behaviors within the family or to children. This kind of unpredictability led to a great deal of social and emotional impacts for the young person, and these impacts could very much endure, even after the parents substance use had stopped or reduced. - Dr Cassey Muir In trying to be trauma informed and aware of the context of their situations, we often bring in the power threat meaning framework. It's a real change of language from ‘what's wrong with you’, to ‘what's happened to you’. - Dr. Cian Aherne Having one good adult in your life, who will just listen to you, and take you seriously, and be there for you, is the most protective thing for young people for their mental health and well being  - Dr. Cian Aherne KEYWORDS#substanceabuse #alcoholism #research #children #family 
  • Voices of Recovery

    Voices of Recovery (VoR) is an initiative of Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) which has a mission to reduce harm from alcohol. The initiative aims to bring together people with lived experience of alcohol addiction to champion recovery and spread the message that change is possible. In this episode, we speak to three long-term recovery advocates and members of Voices of Recovery, board member of Alcohol Action Ireland, Paddy Creedon, recovery centre worker, Val Ward and Olympic medalist, psychotherapist and politician, Kenneth Egan. THINGS WE SPOKE ABOUTFinding yourself through recovery The impact of alcohol on mental health The Voices of Recovery campaign Driving policy changes for alcohol addiction treatment Shame and stigma around alcohol addiction Drinking culture in Ireland Power in peer to peer support How to gain political support for change Statistics of alcohol misuse Alcohol issues in younger people, particularly young men Impact of alcohol abuse on the whole family MORE INFORMATIONIf you are looking for support visit To find out more about Alcohol Action Ireland visit alcoholireland.ieVoices of Recovery campaign: QUOTESMy main objective was to normalize the possibility of change and possibility of recovery. It's there for everybody. It's not a big secret, it's not just a select group of people that can get recovery. It's there for everyone, but you just need to want it. - Kenneth Egan For me, I didn't like the person I was. I put a mask on for every occasion. I wanted people to like me but today I don't do that for anyone to like me, I am who I am. And I always say this, today, I'm the person I was born to be. - Val Ward Worldwide, 3 million people die every year where alcohol is a factor. In Europe, it's almost a million. In Ireland, four people will die today because alcohol is a factor. - Paddy Creedon In the UK, for every pound that they invest in recovery, and in the services that we are trying to advocate for here, in the first five years after that pound is invested, the government or the state get back five pounds. In 10 years that goes to 26 pounds. We're saying we're the living example that recovery is achievable. - Paddy Creedon KEYWORDS#recovery #alcohol #advocate #sober #addiction
  • 9. Growing Up with Parental Problem Alcohol Use

    Marion Rackard, psychotherapist, addiction counsellor and co-founder of Alcohol Action Ireland's initiative Silent Voices, discusses the psychological impacts arising from growing up with parental problem alcohol use with Mick Devine, Clinical Director with the Tabor Group.Mick has a particular interest in families that alcoholic people emerge from, as this was the experience with his own family. Our conversation will help counsellors or psychotherapists who work with this client group, who emerge from similar family settings or therapists working in this area. Its production was supported by funding from the Mental Health Grant Scheme for Community and Voluntary Groups.
  • 8. Reform of alcohol licensing laws: a problem needing a solution or an opportunity to create different drinking occasions and further normalise alcohol use.

    With the proposed 'Sale of Alcohol Bill' likely to be approved by government in the autumn, will greater availability of, and access to, alcohol into the early morning alleviate any pressing societal issue or merely extend commercial opportunity for alcohol producers, merchants and retailers? The expansion of the night time economy is desirable but should the reward for cultural expression be sustained through more alcohol profits and greater alcohol harm? This podcast explores the consequences of licensing reform and the need to retain a focus on defined public health objectives.  The podcast features: Dr Helen McAvoy, Director of Policy, Institute for Public Health in Ireland, and Prof. Niamh Fitzgerald, Professor of Alcohol Policy at Institute of Social Marketing & Health, at University of Stirling, Scotland
  • 5. The lure of alcohol cause marketing: is it nurturing a lifetime alcohol use?

    This podcast explores the world of alcohol marketing: how effective are their campaigns, and who are the principal targets for their strategies and why self-regulation is not meaningful control. The podcast features: Dr Amanda Marie Atkinson, a Senior Researcher within the Public Health Institute, at Liverpool John Moores University; Dr Nathan Critchlow, a SSA academic fellow at the Institute for Social Marketing and Health, University of Stirling, and Jennifer Haugh, Research and Policy Officer at Alcohol Action Ireland.