Over 20% of people who consume alcohol in Ireland are hazardous drinkers who face an increased risk of becoming dependent, a new report has found.
According to the 2019 Drinkaware Index Report, 21% of the drinking population are already hazardous drinkers, while 23% are at risk of becoming hazardous drinkers.
The report found that most Irish adults have little or no awareness of what constitutes low-risk drinking, while almost one in five - 19% - regularly engage in binge drinking sessions.
Binge drinking is considered six or more standard drinks in one sitting. A standard drink is a half pint of beer, a small glass (100ml) of wine or a pub measure of spirits.
Drinking trends were particularly worrying in those aged under 25. On average, they had their first alcoholic drink at the age of 14 and over one-third (34%) admitted to binge drinking on a weekly basis compared to 18% of the general population.
Meanwhile, almost two-thirds (64%) of under-25s admitted to using drinking as a coping mechanism.
The report also highlighted that overall, 74% of people agree with the statement that drinking to excess is simply a part of Irish culture. This sentiment was agreed by both men and women in all age groups.
Commenting on the findings, Drinkaware CEO, Sheena Horgan, warned that the research shows that a ‘significant number of Irish adults are drinking at a level that may be putting their health at risk'.
She said it is of particular concern that these drinking habits appear ‘even more embedded' among younger people.
"The negative impact of alcohol in Irish society is widely known and both national data and international statistical comparisons are well cited and acknowledged. What however is less comprehensive is published analysis on the motivational drivers, the behaviours and attitudes of Irish society towards alcohol across different demographics and ages," Ms Horgan noted.
She said that the report has quantified and exposed for the first time, ‘the collective complacency and cultural acceptance surrounding Irish drinking patterns'.
"To get to the heart of the problem, we need to examine and reassess some of our deep-rooted cultural norms and wide acceptance that we are simply excessive drinkers by virtue of our national heritage," Ms Horgan added.
The Drinkaware report can be viewed here.
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