What we do
Drinkaware is the national charity working to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse in Ireland, governed by an independent board and regulated by the Charities Regulator. We do this through our evidence-informed programmes at community level with the public and online, through workshops, webinars and at public events. Engaging with the public with a particular focus on parents and the workplace.
The national research we commission encourages greater understanding of alcohol consumption and its impact. The health promotion resources we provide offer practical ways to drink less or cut out alcohol to protect physical and mental health.
Ultimately, we aim to achieve two ambitious goals: 1) Delay the age of first drink, and 2) Reduce the number of adults who drink above the HSE low-risk weekly guidelines. The WHO recommends a multi-faceted approach to reducing alcohol misuse and harm. Read on for an overview of Drinkaware’s contribution to this collective effort.
Outreach and Engagement
Our public health outreach and engagement work reaches all demographics in every corner of the country. An Ireland free from alcohol misuse and harm can only happen with regular, collaborative multi-channel interventions. This is why key priorities for Drinkaware include increasing understanding alcohol, its impact on health, wellbeing and society and how to reduce the risk of experiencing alcohol-related harms. And so, we believe that everyone the right to clear information and evidence-informed strategies to put change into practice.
- To support greater awareness and understanding of alcohol misuse and harm.
- To provide practical supports to empower and enable people to drink less or cut out alcohol.
To protect and improve health and wellbeing in Irish society by preventing and reducing alcohol misuse and harm.
Health promotion resources
Drinkaware is the only organisation in Ireland that produces evidence-informed tools and resources to support positive behaviour change regarding alcohol. These include our standard drink measure cup, calculator and a range of booklets. Many of our resources are also available in the Irish and Polish languages. Our resources are widely utilised by community, health, youth, education and civil society organisations. Order our health promotion resources
We use the most up-to-date evidence from the most trusted sources to inform the development of our resources. This includes the HSE and WHO. Following best practice, the nutritional data used for our drinks calculators is from McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods, 7th Summary edition.
In 2017, we commissioned The Behavioural Insights Team (UK) to assess the behaviour change potential of our measure cup and calculators to facilitate behaviour change. We will use these recommendations to update our resources to ensure their continued value and ability to facilitate positive changes to drinking habits.
Digital health promotion
We run regular evidence-informed campaigns across our social media channels to inform, educate and increase access to practical tools to facilitate positive behaviour change. These campaigns aim to support greater understanding of standard drinks, the low-risk guidelines and alcohol-related harms. You can join our growing community on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Each year, we proudly support national and international awareness events. We do this to encourage the public to recognise the causal link between alcohol and different health problems and promote positive changes people can make to reduce risks. In 2019, we raised awareness of World Cancer Day, Men’s Health Week, Irish Heart Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month among others.
In the media
Drinkaware contributes significant value to the ongoing public discourse around alcohol misuse in Irish society. Much of this is achieved through our regular media campaigns focused on sharing national data relating to behaviours, attitudes and motivational drivers of alcohol consumption in Ireland. In 2019, we were featured in over 400 pieces of coverage across national, regional and local print, radio and television. Read our latest press releases in our Media Centre
Research plays a critical strategic role in Drinkaware and is viewed as an organisational asset. We are committed to ongoing investment in relevant and timely research to ensure that each of our programmes is evidence-informed. Furthermore, our research is both rigorously analysed and cross-referenced against other available national and international data to deliver significant and constructive reports and studies.
To use our research to encourage a greater and deeper understanding of alcohol consumption and its impact on a national level. This in turn serves three purposes:
- ensures the validity, relevance and efficacy of our other work and programmes
- supports our stakeholder engagement with other civil society and health organisations
- increases our national and EU collaborative and shared learning opportunities.
For Drinkaware’s research and its implications for health promotion and alcohol harm reduction to be recognised as making a valuable and valued contribution to the issue of alcohol misuse and harm.
Since 2017, we have commissioned the Drinkaware Barometer, a national survey conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes. This survey aims to assess and track attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol among adults in Ireland. This data provides the most up-to-date evidence on alcohol consumption, key shifts in alcohol use and knowledge of the low-risk guidelines. Crucially, the Barometer also identifies at-risk demographics of the drinking population that would benefit from a targeted intervention.
The Alcohol & Covid-19 Barometer was the first study to focus specifically on drinking behaviours and attitudes since government restrictions were implemented in 2020. The need for data on alcohol consumption is essential so we can understand how and learn from the impact disruptive events like a global pandemic can contribute to significant shifts in public attitudes and behaviour.
Published in 2019, the first cycle of the Index identified two major at-risk groups within the drinking population:
- Hazardous drinkers at increasing risk of dependency (21%), and
- A 23% group at potential risk of becoming hazardous drinkers.
The questionnaire design for this study incorporated seven internationally recognised and standardised question models (including the World Health Organisation’s AUDIT-C), making it possible to corroborate and cross-analyse with international research.
Evaluation of Drinkaware’s Alcohol Education Programme
This three-year independent longitudinal study by Maynooth University aims to assess the effectiveness of Drinkaware’s manualised junior cycle programme. This mixed methods study is led by Professor Sinéad McGilloway, Founder and Director of the Centre for Mental Health and Community Research at Maynooth University Department of Psychology, in collaboration with Dr John Weafer of Weafer and Associates. Key findings, insights and recommendations from the evaluation to date are used to update the teacher manual and student lessons. Read more about the evaluation and findings
Drinkaware’s public health remit includes tackling underage drinking. We do this by empowering teachers and parents to support their students and children to have a better awareness and understanding of the facts regarding alcohol. Primary prevention, stopping early alcohol use before it starts, requires significant changes in attitudes, knowledge and behaviour, all of which can be supported by effective alcohol education.
There is no place for alcohol in childhood. Through the collective efforts of Irish society from educators and parents to charities and government, we can make a lasting difference to the next generation’s attitudes and behaviours regarding alcohol.
The objectives of the junior cycle Alcohol Education Programme are:
- to promote awareness among students of the effects of alcohol
- to support the development of personal and social skills which encourage independent decision making about alcohol
- to empower young people to develop strategies to resist peer pressure, change behaviours and engage in alternatives to alcohol use.
Drinkaware’s work with parents and schools aim to delay the age at which Irish young people take their first drink – currently 15.5 years old (Drinkaware Index 2019).
Alcohol Education Programme (AEP)
The Drinkaware Alcohol Education Programme (AEP) is an evidence-informed eight-week manualised resource for junior cycle students. In line with best practice, we provide training to support teachers to deliver this primary prevention programme to students as intended. The AEP was developed within the context of the Framework for Junior Cycle and SPHE, and has a strong focus on wellbeing. It supports and aligns with the Department of Education’s Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice 2018–2023. Read more about the AEP
Whole school approach
Best practice suggests that there should be a whole school approach in the planning and delivery of a programme rather than a reliance on individual teachers. This involves engaging the whole staff with the programme including principals and school management, being guided by cross-curricular links and aligning the programme with school policy. To meet this need, we have developed a a new resource to enable a whole school approach to alcohol education. The lessons within this handbook signpost clear guidance on how all teachers can include alcohol education alongside other subject areas.
Positive change can only happen through collective efforts, and we know parents and teachers are key sources of education and role modelling for children regarding alcohol. We recognise that parents are key gatekeepers of adolescent behaviour and as such, should be an integral part of any work that aims to prevent underage drinking. Our dedicated Parents hub features comprehensive facts, advice and strategies to support parents to have informed conversations about alcohol with their children and young adults. We also facilitate evidence-informed workshops for parents nationwide. Read more about our workshops