Half of Irish drinking population at-risk of health issues, new Drinkaware research finds

Half of Irish drinking population at-risk of health issues, new Drinkaware research finds

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The Drinkaware Index reveals the true extent of harmful drinking habits in Ireland, with almost half (48%) of Irish drinkers drinking at a level that is putting their health at increasing or high risk. The World Health Organisation’s AUDIT-C screening tool was used in this research, making it possible to corroborate the data on an international level. Launched during the 6th EU Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm (19-23 Nov), the new Drinkaware Index findings show the most comprehensive and up-to-date picture of the nation’s attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol.

Conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes, this research revealed that Irish drinkers are concerned about the lasting impact of their drinking habits, with one-quarter (24%) considering it likely that they will have increased health problems in the future if they continue to drink at their current level. Throughout EU Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm, Drinkaware is encouraging people to get the facts about alcohol and make small changes to their drinking habits to improve their health and wellbeing.

Drinkaware Index key findings:

  • 23% of Irish adults (aged 18+) do not drink alcohol
  • 44% drink alcohol on at least a weekly basis (population est. 446,000)
  • 19% of Irish drinkers consumed more than six standard drinks on a single drinking occasion each week in the last year (i.e. binge drinking)
  • Just 2% of people could correctly identify the low-risk alcohol guidelines
  • 21% of drinkers think they should cut down on how much alcohol they drink; increases to 32% for under 25s
  • 16% have made already small changes to their alcohol consumption
  • 74% believe that drinking to excess is ‘just a part of Irish culture’

Speaking about the research findings, Sheena Horgan, CEO of Drinkaware, said:

“The Drinkaware Index is a landmark study that provides a critical up-to-date picture of Ireland’s drinking habits. Our data on the national levels of consumption corroborates other research like the Healthy Ireland Survey, but using the World Health Organisation’s AUDIT-C screening tool in this research allowed us to dig deeper to the real root of the issue regarding which segments of the population are at risk and the hard truth is that almost half of Irish adults who drink alcohol, are drinking at a level that could be dangerous to their health and wellbeing and what’s more, they know it. We can now therefore direct to these cohorts, specific information, resources and strategies they can use to drink less alcohol and ultimately, reduce their risk of experiencing related harms.”

John O’Mahony, Director, Behaviour & Attitudes said:

“B&A were privileged to conduct this national study for Drinkaware on Irish adults’ attitudes and behaviours in relation to alcohol. The findings highlight the extent of the challenge faced in addressing our culture’s pre-disposition towards the over-consumption of alcohol. An encouraging finding however is the willingness of key target groups to amend their behaviour in the future.”