Alcohol still Ireland's main problem drug

54,000+ cases treated between 2012 and 2018
  • Deborah Condon

Over 54,000 cases were treated for problem alcohol use in Ireland between 2012 and 2018, figures from the Health Research Board (HRB) have shown.

According to the figures, a total of 54,263 cases were treated during this time, including 7,464 in 2018.

Many of those in treatment had been drinking more in one day than would be recommended by the HSE for an entire week.

"More people receive treatment for alcohol as a main problem drug than any other drug in Ireland. One in five cases seeking alcohol treatment also report problem use of other drugs, which is known to make recovery harder.

"Cocaine continues to increase as an additional drug being used by both men and women who present for alcohol treatment. This is of concern because mixing alcohol and cocaine can lead to greater physical harm, more severe side-effects and increased impairment," explained HRB chief executive, Dr Darrin Morrissey.

The figures show that among the 7,464 cases treated in 2018, 71% were already alcohol dependent. Furthermore, the average number of standard drinks consumed on a typical drinking day was 15 for women and 20 for men.

In Ireland, a standard drink is equivalent to half a pint of beer, a pub measure of spirits or a small glass of wine.

Preferred drinks among women in treatment were spirits (36%) and wine (35%), while among men, they were beer (45%) and spirits (38%).

The figures also show that the average age of those in treatment was 41 years and 65% were men. Meanwhile, the proportion of cases that were homeless increased from one in 20 cases in 2012 to one in 10 in 2018.

The HSE's low-risk drinking guidelines recommend that women should consume no more than 11 standard drinks per week, while men should consume no more than 17 standard drinks per week. Drinks should be spaced out over the week, with two in three alcohol-free days per week. For more on these guidelines, click here.



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