TAIPEI (TVBS News) — The Ministry of Health and Welfare inaugurated Taiwan's first comprehensive "Taiwan Alcohol Rehabilitation and Prevention Center" on Friday (Nov. 24). Operated by the MacKay Memorial Hospital and commissioned by the ministry, the center is set to offer walk-in and hotline consultations, as well as screening and referral services for alcohol addiction.
Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan emphasized the center's opening as a crucial part of the government's three-pronged approach to alcohol addiction prevention. This strategy includes the creation of "smart" drinking cups to raise awareness of standard alcohol units, expanding financial support for treatment programs, and establishing this dedicated rehabilitation and prevention center.
Hospital Superintendent Chang Wen-han noted MacKay Memorial Hospital's extensive experience in the field, having helped over 700 alcohol-dependent individuals resume work and reintegrate into social life over the past seven years.
In Taiwan, over 8 million people have a habit of drinking, with about 1 million engaging in binge drinking, leading to significant health and social issues. Annually, improper drinking behavior is linked to approximately 4,500 deaths, affects over 40,000 individuals, and results in considerable economic costs, including an estimated NT＄3.5 billion in medical resources and nearly NT＄54.9 billion in overall economic damage.
The drinking rate among senior high school and vocational students has increased from 28.6% in 2019 to 30.6% in 2021, with one in ten junior high students experiencing intoxication in the past month. The increasing rates of alcohol consumption among young women are also a part of this concerning trend.
Despite these challenges, Taiwan’s alcohol addiction and prevention strategies, implemented over the past 17 years, have demonstrated promising results, with nearly 90% of treated individuals showing reduced frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption.
The new center aims to build on these successes, providing a focused resource in the ongoing effort to reduce the negative impacts of alcohol use on society.