The harmful use of alcohol causes an estimated 2.5 million deaths every year, of which a significant proportion occur in the young. Alcohol use is the third leading risk factor for poor health globally. In response to harmful use of alcohol, World Health Organization developed a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol endorsed by the Sixty-third World Health Assembly in 2010. Parallel with international initiatives, and in response to epidemiological data on alcohol use disorders in the country and incidence of few cases of methanol intoxication mass epidemics, Iran Ministry of Health has formulated national policies on alcohol prevention, tackle, treatment and rehabilitation of alcohol use which were ratified in high rank national councils.
Following strategic objectives were proposed in national policy document: (a) 25% decrease in alcohol burden until the end of the plan in 2017 (b) To clearly define and institutionalize the role and responsibilities of governmental and civil society organizations in stabilization and reduction of burden of alcohol use disorders (c) To increase public awareness in different age groups about etiological factors, risks and consequences of alcohol use (d) To increase utilization of treatment, harm reduction and rehabilitation services in urban and rural areas (e) To prevent/tackle use of alcoholic beverages and (f) To decrease availability and increase the costs of alcohol related crimes.
A public health approach to address alcohol problem has been successfully adopted by Islamic Republic of Iran. To decrease sensitivity associated with alcohol use disorders from one hand and insufficiency of resources to develop new standalone programs on the other hand, Iranian Ministry of Health policy is to integrate alcohol programs within currently available network of drug treatment and health facilities. It is critical for responsible governmental and non-governmental organizations to implement the program in a culturally sensitive manner and to show the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of the programs during implementation phase.