In a survey of 25 countries, Ireland was found to have the highest rate of pre-drinking, with 85% of people saying they consume alcohol before going out to a licenced premise. In contrast at 17.7%, Greece was the country that ranked the lowest. The survey also found that pre-drinking was associated with heavier drinking behaviour and an increased risk of negative alcohol-related consequences. The findings were published in the Drug and Alcohol Review and used data from the Global Drug Survey to estimate the percentage of pre-drinkers from 65,126 respondents, aged 16-35, across 25 countries. In Ireland, 1,883 people were surveyed.

How Ireland compares to the top five countries in relation to pre-drinking:

  • Ireland 85%
  • Norway 80%
  • New Zealand 78.7%
  • Denmark 76.2%
  • UK 75%

Speaking about the findings, Drinkaware Chief Medical Officer Dr Liam Twomey said: “This study shows clearly the dangerous way in which many people in Ireland consume alcohol. We know that drinking habits have changed over recent years and what we can see from this survey is a strong relationship between the prevalence of heavy drinkers and pre-drinking. While this behaviour is not exclusive to Ireland, it is clear that we have more of a tendency to drink in this way than many other countries.

The issue is not where people are drinking, it is the way they are drinking and the somewhat relaxed attitudes towards the detrimental effect this is having on their health and wellbeing. Drinkaware’s latest research found that 46% of people believe that drinking to excess is ‘no big deal’, while 1 in 3 would like to drink less. This disconnect between what people intend to do and want to do, and what they end up doing is something we need to urgently address. The risks associated with excessive drinking are too great to be ignored – liver disease, mental health problems and cancer to name just a few.”


Are you drinking within the HSE low-risk guidelines for alcohol consumption? Remember, these are guidelines – not a target. Take our quick quiz to find out if you are drinking within the guidelines

  • 11 standard drinks (110g pure alcohol) spread out over the week for women, with at least two alcohol-free days
  • 17 standard drinks (170g pure alcohol) spread out over the week for men, with at least two alcohol-free days

Try out our drinks calculator to see the number of standard drinks and calories in different drinks, as well as how much money you spent and how long it will take for the alcohol to fully leave your system.