In 2005, the Alcohol Advisory Service, together with Martin Plant and Moira Plant (heads of the Alcohol & Health Research Trust, Centre for Public Health Research, University of the West of England) undertook the first study of its kind into adult drinking patterns and behaviour on the Isle of Man.  The work was very generously funded by Isle of Man Medical Research.  The research formed part of an already existing international study into adult drinking called GENACIS (Gender, Alcohol & Culture: an International Study). 

In August 2007, the first paper from the data collected was published in the Journal of Substance Use, entitled: “Drinking patterns and alcohol-related experiences amongst adults on the Isle of Man: A comparison with the United Kingdom.”

This is the abstract from the paper:

“This paper describes the initial results of a survey of alcohol consumption among a general population sample of 1000 adults on the Isle of Man.  This survey is part of Gender, Alcohol and Culture: an International Study (GENACIS).  Findings were compared with those of the UK GENACIS survey.  The later had elicited information from 2027 adults.  This comparison revealed that the Isle of Man has a greater proportion of abstainers than the UK sample.  Even so, among drinkers there was no difference on annual frequency of alcohol consumption or in relation to the quantity consumed on the last drinking occasion.  Manx respondents reported having a greater number of positive experiences from drinking.  Manx respondents were also more likely than those in the UK to be in the middle range of self-reported alcohol-related problems.  A substantial minority of Manx adults (9% of women and 22% of men) were drinking above sensible levels.  Moreover, some (roughly 1% of women and 5.6% of men) were exceeding high risk alcohol consumption levels.  Many people reported having experienced alcohol-related problems.  It was notable that this survey did not suggest an upsurge in heavy drinking amongst young Manx women that has recently been evident amongst their counterparts in the UK.”

This is an important piece of research and gives us the very first data on adult drinking on the Isle of Man.  There will be more papers to come from this research and we look forward to seeing some more of the work from the data.  It will hopefully also help us plan our work in the future as to where our efforts and resources on the Island need to be channelled.

Some of the GENACIS data has been used in the Strategy for Family Members, “Supporting Significant Others Affected by Substance Misuse on the Isle of Man” – it has been estimated that between 16,000 to 20,000 adults on the IOM are concerned about the drinking of a close family member.  This plan also estimated that there are 1800 children on the Island affected by a parent’s misuse of alcohol or drugs.

The high risk drinking groups appear to be men aged 18-24 (drinking double that of their UK counterparts.) The other high risk category was women in the 65+ year old age group.

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