Alcohol Action Ireland has launched an initiative to harness the lived experience of people in recovery from alcohol harm to drive policy change.

Voices of Recovery, which is being led by people in recovery from alcohol, aims to remove the stigma of getting help for alcohol problems.

The initiative also seeks to drive "evidence-based policy change" on issues such as better alcohol treatment services, curbs on alcohol marketing and holding the alcohol industry to account.

The first ten signatories to the initiative include well-known recovery advocates Olympic boxer Kenneth Egan, Senator Frances Black and singer Mary Coughlan.

AAI Board member Paddy Creedon, who has been the driving force behind the project, said the aim was to mobilise the "recovery community" (individuals in recovery, family, friends and recovery agencies) into community recovery advocate networks.

Olympic boxer Kenneth Egan has become involved in the initiative to let people know that it is "okay to speak out and reach out for help" and to let them know that recovery is possible.

"I was using alcohol as a mask, a way to escape. I was a very chaotic binge drinker and I didn't find the real me until I stopped drinking," Mr Egan said.

"My sobriety is the most important thing to me - even more than my Olympic medal. I hope that Voices of Recovery will break down the stigma around seeking help and allow people to be more open about what's going on in their lives."

It is inevitable that people in Ireland develop alcohol problems, according to Alcohol Action Ireland's Chairperson Professor Frank Murray, due to the glorification, normalisation and marketing of the product.

"We constantly hear from the alcohol industry - whether it's through marketing or via the media looking for tax breaks, even as their profits soar. It's long past time that we hear from the people affected by alcohol harm - the missing voice, up to now in the narrative around alcohol harm," he said.

In Ireland, 15% of the population have an alcohol use disorder according to Alcohol Action Ireland.

Behind such alarming statistics, according to Prof Murray, are stories of devastation for individuals and their families.

"This is a powerful group of voices that we have not harnessed and heard from before," he said.

"In other areas of health, people speak out to raise funds, campaign, get better treatment services, but when it comes to alcohol, unfortunately, people don't feel as at ease to speak out.

"This will hopefully change with the Voices of Recovery campaign. By understanding and listening to people's experiences with this lens, it should become easier for politicians to make the right decisions around alcohol harm," he said.