How Can the EU Reduce Rates of Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol is a drug with one of the top mortality rates, regardless of it being legal and widely available in the majority European countries. Alcohol addiction, illegal and underage alcohol use, death from overdoses and opioids are sadly becoming second nature all over Europe and it’s neighbouring countries. The fact the alcohol is so easy to get a hold of legally, and still readily accessible illegally, is a large contributing factor to this epidemic. Another factor is that in society we accept alcohol as the norm. Many social gatherings are in fact, centered around alcohol and you may be seen as the black sheep or party pooper if you don’t conform to these social norms. With so much pressure being put on drinking alcohol, the problems of abuse and addiction rise because there’s very little help out there to stop consuming alcohol and there’s very little pressure in society to not drink at all.
Sadly Europe currently has higher death rates due to alcohol abuse then the US and other countries around the world. When we look at the larger scale of things, Europe actually ranks extremely high in comparison to the rest of the world for deaths involving alcohol abuse. The World Life Expectancy organisation studied this epidemic back in 2014 and sadly not much has changed since. As it currently stands, Estonia has the highest about of deaths due to Alcohol; with Lithuania, Belarus and Russia following shortly behind.
The Estonian minister has been seen speaking out recently and advocating the dire need for a change in EU policy regarding alcohol and other substances. The minister seems extremely passionate, especially considering that Estonia currently has the highest mortality rates for substance abuse in the entire world. The minister spoke out at one of many meetings aimed at tackling harmful alcohol use in the EU. At the Cross-border aspects in alcohol policy – Tackling harmful use of alcohol, Ossinovski is quoted saying “It has been seven years since the adoption of the global agreement to minimize damage from alcohol consumption. All countries recognize the principles of it – a good alcohol policy is comprehensive, sustainable and cross-sectoral. In a united Europe this means an alcohol policy on the EU level. There is no other option for implementing a global strategy in Europe.”
Whilst the minister is seen speaking out so passionately about the issue right now, he adds that he is not under any illusion that the end goal will be achieved in the short term. He is thinking of long term solutions for improving public health, pointing out that “20 years ago, nobody would have also believed than an EU tobacco directive would be in effect.”