Healthy Ireland Survey 2021 report

Drinkaware is delighted to see the positive findings regarding alcohol reported from a Healthy Ireland, survey 2021 report.

The Healthy Ireland Survey is an interviewer-administered survey of health and health behaviours of people living in Ireland, commissioned by the Department of Health and carried out by Ipsos MRBI. Interviewing for this Wave 7 Survey Report, 2021, took place by telephone from October 2020 to March 2021, representing a time during which significant Covid-19 restrictions were in place, and provides a valuable snapshot of health-related behaviours
during the pandemic (Healthy Ireland, 2021).

Drinkaware’s mission is to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse, and the findings reported in the survey for 2021 illustrate a positive shift in behaviours in relation to alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Findings of note:

  • 42% of drinkers are stating they are drinking less
  • 15% of the population (22% of drinkers) binge drink on a typical drinking occasion. This compares to 28% (37% of drinkers) in 2018
  • 84% of the population (and 90% of women of reproductive age) correctly identified drinking during pregnancy as unsafe
  • 44% reporting that their drinking has not changed and 13% report that they are now drinking more

The Drinkaware Annual Barometer for 2021 also found that 30% of drinkers would like to drink less often (+6% 2020) and 37% have already made small positive changes to their drinking in the past 12 months (+6% 2020).

Mental health & Wellbeing

The above findings are encouraging and illustrate a shift in attitudes towards alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic. But there are some concerning findings with regards to mental health. The Healthy Ireland Survey report 2021 reported that 1 in 3 people state their mental health has worsened since the start of the pandemic. The Drinkaware Annual Barometer for 2021 also found 1 in 3 people (35%) reported low mental well-being (compared with 11% in 2018). Both Drinkaware and Healthy Ireland research has revealed that low mental well-being is highest amongst the younger age groups.

Moving forward

Findings from both the Drinkaware annual barometer and a Healthy Ireland indicate that there has been a positive shift in behaviours and attitudes towards alcohol since the pandemic began. 2022 will be a year of opportunities and Drinkaware will be there to help guide and facilitate the public in their understanding of alcohol use and misuse. 

2022 will also see the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing, which as part of the Public Health Alcohol Act of 2018, will see the removal of the strongest, cheapest alcohol from our shelves, which will contribute to reducing alcohol-related harms in Ireland.

We must take the positive findings from both our own research and that of Healthy Ireland and continue to engage with the public throughout 2022, to ensure that this encouraging shift is not only sustained but increases throughout 2022.