Last week I attended a conference in Madrid as the Irish rep for a group of Addiction Associations in Europe. I met professionals treating and research addiction in many different countries, including Spain, Portugal, Norway, Germany and the UK. I was amazed at how similar the problems with addiction, and alcohol in particular, were in each country. What remained was how different each country was dealing with the problem. In Spain and Portugal, young people, men in particular, are getting drunk in binges like here at home. In Norway and Sweden, however, the government has developed a different system for dealing with the problem. They have regulated alcohol sales for years, and it is more expensive and harder to get than in most other European countries. But not impossible. And that has led to them having one third the alcohol consumption of Ireland per person. Restriction and legislation does work, but there has to be a political and popular will to do it. Despite the problems, the addiction, the drunkeness, the suicides, there isn’t the political will to tackle this problem in Ireland yet. So we have to tackle the problem individual by individual, addiction by addiction, harm by harm, and hope for change eventually. So many lives could be saved through effort at government level, but I’m not sure it will happen.