Harmful effects of alcohol hitting home, research shows

Harmful effects of alcohol hitting home, research shows

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  • Drinkaware research shows 75% of adults have become ‘much more aware’ of the harmful effects of drinking
  • More than half of Irish people are taking positive steps to reduce their alcohol consumption
  • Drinkaware cited as most trusted provider of trusted alcohol information in Ireland

Research commissioned by Drinkaware has found that attitudes of Irish adults towards alcohol are improving, as people become more conscious of the impact of alcohol misuse. 75% of all adults surveyed say they have become much more aware of the harmful effects of alcohol on their short and long-term health, representing a 6% improvement since January 2017. A similar increase was found in the awareness among adults of organisations working in this area, where 76% of Irish adults (a population estimate of 2.6million) are aware of Drinkaware and its work.

The research, carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes, also demonstrated the results are particularly encouraging among those under 34 years, where almost 80% say they have become much more aware of how excessive drinking affects their health and wellbeing in recent times, and 56% are making efforts to reduce their intake.

This research shows the real and tangible impact of positive campaigns to tackle alcohol misuse in Ireland with over 80% of people feel public awareness-raising is important. Furthermore, Drinkaware is cited as the leading organisation whose work spans across the three top public information areas – the risks associated with underage drinking, helping parents to talk to their children about alcohol and promoting the guidelines on the maximum number of standard drinks an adult should drink in a week.

The effect of this shift in attitude and behaviour can also be seen in the numbers of people contacting Drinkaware for support, advice and tools to make it easier to understand drinking habits and make a change. In 2017, over 100,000 people used the online drinks calculator to monitor their intake and over 35,000 health promotion resources, including Drinkaware’s standard drink measure cup, were ordered ensuring they can accurately measure what they are drinking at home and stay within the low-risk guidelines.

Niamh Gallagher, CEO of Drinkaware, welcomed the findings:

“We’re really glad to see these steady, incremental changes and it seems as though the messages about the harmful effects of alcohol are really hitting home for people but we know there is still work to do. Any kind of long-term behaviour change is difficult, and requires a sustained and dedicated long-term effort from a range of voices and all parts of society. We are encouraged that Drinkaware is recognised by the public as the leading provider of trusted alcohol information in Ireland, something we strive to continue through our work in health promotion and alcohol education.

We each have our part to play in changing how we use alcohol in this country, and in creating a country where alcohol is not misused. Looking at other areas like drinking and driving, the change takes place with a combination of education, a society that no longer tolerates it, and enforcement. With the new Public Health (Alcohol) Bill working through the Dáil in the coming weeks, enforcement measures aiming to curb alcohol misuse will be put into effect. Our work in Drinkaware will complement and amplify these measures, and we will continue our efforts in working with parents, communities and other organisations to keep the pace of change up.”

When asked where they get information about alcohol, 40% of Irish people named Drinkaware as the number one trusted source of information – without prompt. Total awareness of Drinkaware is at 76% of Irish adults aged 18 years+ in January 2018 (76% = 2.6million of the adult population). Awareness of Drinkaware peaks among those under 34 years (82%), as well as among parents.

The research showed people associate the work of Drinkaware with:

  • Trying to reduce binge drinking
  • Working to reduce underage drinking
  • Providing trusted alcohol information to the general public. 

Read the full research report