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, under the second EU Health programme, the Joint Action on Reducing Alcohol Related Harm (RARHA) project, which kicked off in Lisbon in January 2014. This week, the EMCDDA is participating in the latest meeting of the RARHA project in Athens (13–14 March). The event will focus on the results of developing and testing new RARHA instruments to monitor alcohol use and its consequences in Europe.
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. The EMCDDA is among the project’s collaborating partners and also a member of its Advisory Board.
One of the core activities of the RARHA project (work package 4/WP4: ‘Monitoring’) is to improve the monitoring of alcohol use, risky alcohol use and abuse or dependence and alcohol-related harms (to the drinker and others), particularly via survey methodology. The EMCDDA is active in WP4, which includes the development of instruments (questionnaire and scales) and methodologies.
Many European surveys exist that include measurements of alcohol use, abuse and problems. But these vary considerably and it is almost impossible to gain a European overview of the issue. The conclusions and recommendations of the three-year RARHA project are expected to bring substantial improvements in the quality and comparability of alcohol use information in Europe.
The EMCDDA plans to build on the work of the project by taking a subset of the instruments developed under WP4 to include in its ‘European Model Questionnaire’ (EMQ). The EMQ already includes a short module on alcohol, but compatibility with European standards on this topic are likely enhance the information collected by EMCDDA on alcohol within its mandate of monitoring of polydrug use.