The figures regarding overall alcohol consumption in Ireland have been decreasing in recent years. Adult consumption was over 11 litres per capita and are now at 10.9 litres per capita. All very positive stats, but when countered with the reality that this is still well above OECD average of 9 litres, our kids are starting to drink as young as 13 years, and one-in-five binge drink, can we really call this progress?
The funny thing about progress, is that it may not be where you want to be, but it’s not where we used to be, and that’s important. Some celebration of small gains keeps the eye on the bigger prize (which for us is an Ireland where alcohol is not misused) and the maintenance of momentum alone has the potential to create a significant movement.
Of course movements don’t just happen. They take time and investment. They require shifts in the minds that matter, so those mavens can support and propagate the ‘new’ thinking. In the case of alcohol it’s not so much ‘new’ thinking as ‘revised’ thinking. Because progress isn’t possible without change.
But as George Bernard Shaw said: “if we can’t change our minds then we cannot change anything." So we need to start with awareness and attitude. That’s where Drinkaware’s information campaigns come in. As providers of fact, we don’t so much challenge conventional thinking (i.e. 70% believe “drinking to excess is just part of our culture”, Drinkaware Index 2018) but offer alternative wisdom that can be the important catalyst for the change we seek.
We know people want to change. Pfizer’s latest survey shows 67% aim to become more focused on how much alcohol they consume. This is in keeping with our own Drinkaware Index findings that clearly show a willingness and appetite to change consumption levels.
Change isn’t always easy and consequently it isn’t always welcome. But I happen to believe there’s real value in adversity. Differing views can inspire debate. Broad debate can evoke reflection. And reflective introspection, especially when coupled with information, can trigger the desire and motivation to change.
No one said our job at Drinkaware was going to be easy. But as we go into a new year and a new three-year strategic cycle, we’re optimistic that the winds of change are coming.