46% of Irish people believe drinking to excess is ‘no big deal’

46% of Irish people believe drinking to excess is ‘no big deal’

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A Behaviour and Attitudes survey on behalf of Drinkaware has revealed striking attitudes Irish people hold regarding their excessive drinking behaviour, and a gap between people’s intentions to drink less and their actions. While some people revealed their wish to drink less often, others feel their drinking habits don’t have any negative effects and revealed they do not take binge or excessive drinking seriously.

Younger age groups and people in urban areas showed more awareness and positive behaviours surrounding responsible drinking.

1000 Irish adults aged 18 and over were interviewed as part of the research, which revealed poor attitudes towards excessive drinking and risky behaviour around alcohol:

  • 73% say drinking to excess is just a part of Irish culture
  • 46% believe drinking to excess is ‘no big deal’
  • 27% believe drink driving is ‘less of an issue’ in recent years (contrary to RSA and An Garda Síochána research highlighting alcohol as a factor in 38% of collisions)

However, many are now beginning to see the health implications of alcohol misuse.

  • 69% of Irish adults are more aware of how excessive drinking affects their health and well-being
  • 46% have made small positive changes to their drinking habits recently
  • 33% of people want to drink less often

When asked what might help people to cut down, 82% of respondents agreed that alcohol education helps to encourage people to reduce their alcohol consumption.

Dr Liam Twomey, Chief Medical Officer, Drinkaware said:

“While this report shows that saw that many people understand the impacts of alcohol and their health, it does highlight worrying behaviours and attitudes among many people around excessive drinking. As a GP, I regularly see people in my surgery who recognise the health implications of alcohol in theory, but find it very hard to put that understanding into practice. I often see this disconnect between what people intend to do and want to do, and what they end up doing on a night out.

“These attitudes are pervasive in Ireland, but we are seeing positive changes too. I encourage all of my patients to think about how they perceive their relationship to alcohol, the ‘excuses’ we all make about drink being ingrained in our culture, and about the significant health consequences they can face, such as liver complications, coronary heart disease, certain cancers, mental health problems, obesity; to name a few. In addition, there are the social implications, such as drink driving and relationship problems alcohol can cause. What we’re seeing now is this gap between people’s good intentions and some stubborn, outdated attitudes which are still lingering about binge drinking being all part of the ‘craic’.

“It is encouraging to see that many young people are now foregoing binge drinking of alcohol, and research by Drinkaware last year revealed the education they receive from their parents can have dramatic impacts on how they view their own relationship with alcohol.”

Niamh Gallagher, CEO of Drinkaware, said of the research:
“This research comes at a time when levels of alcohol consumption in Ireland (11 litres per capita) are consistently well above the OECD average (9.1l) and recent figures released by the Revenue Commissioners indicate this figure increased in 2016. However we should be encouraged that almost half of people surveyed are proactively taking positive steps to change their drinking habits.

“Drinkaware work to educate people with the facts about alcohol and we want to support people to make practical, positive changes to their drinking habits and to see health benefits as a result. We want people to understand the risks so they can keep health problems associated with alcohol to minimum.”

“Drinkaware encourages everyone to access the tools available on our website www.drinkaware.ie which are widely used and supported by frontline healthcare and education professionals to make people aware of the risks they face through frequent binge drinking.”

ENDS