Harmful and hazardous alcohol use is one of the main causes of premature deaths and avoidable diseases in the EU today. Highlighting the importance of this issue, the European Commission is funding the Joint Action on Reducing Alcohol Related Harm (RARHA) project, being launched in Lisbon on 31 January.
Led by the Portuguese General-Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD) the Joint Action involves 32 associated partners and 28 collaborating partners from both EU and non-EU countries (1). The EMCDDA is among the project’s collaborating partners and also a member of its Advisory Board.
The project aims to mobilise countries to develop common approaches in line with the EU alcohol strategy, including:
- developing methodologies to conduct alcohol surveys and pool data for comparative assessments;
- translating scientific evidence and knowledge into practical implications for good practice in alcohol-related interventions; and
- producing a toolkit of potentially transferable interventions with evidence of effectiveness and cost estimates.
The kick-off meeting, hosted by the EMCDDA, features opening addresses from Paulo Macedo, Portuguese Minister of Health; João Goulão, General-Director of SICAD; Wolfgang Götz, EMCDDA Director; Philippe Roux, Head of unit for Health determinants at the European Commission (DG-SANCO) and Paola D’Acapito, Project Officer at the Health unit of the European Commission’s Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA).
Commenting on the initiative, EMCDDA Director Wolfgang Götz said: ‘This kind of project highlights the importance of alcohol and alcohol-related problems in Europe, and strongly signals the willingness and readiness of the EU Member States and the European and international community to respond to them. The EMCDDA is proud to be part of this project and we look forward to contributing to this joint endeavour’.
For many years, there has been considerable policy concern about the interaction between alcohol and drug use in Europe and the harms this can bring. The EMCDDA’s own remit was broadened in 2006 to include the monitoring of polydrug use, where illicit drugs are taken in combination with licit substances or medication (2). Alcohol consumption forms part of almost all polydrug use repertoires and is present in all drug-using populations.
The Joint Action intends to contribute to the health and wellbeing of EU citizens and to reduce costs to health systems and the wider economy. It will mainly advise on the interaction of alcohol and drug use in Europe and on related best practice and interventions.