By Fiona O’Brien
Young people in Ireland are drinking at dangerous levels with 15 per cent of 18-24-year-olds dependent on alcohol according to new research.
Figures published yesterday by the Health Research Board found that three quarters of all alcohol consumed in Ireland was done so as part of a binge drinking session.
More than half of the general 18-75-year-old population, or 1.35 million people are described as drinking in a harmful way.
This raises to a concerning 75 per cent among the under-24s, and 150,000 of the adult population fulfil the criteria for alcohol dependency.
Almost 6,000 people took part in the National Alcohol Diary Survey between July and October of last year to measure the rates and patterns of drinking in private households.
As a fifth of those surveyed stated they had abstained from alcohol for the past 12 months, the figures show that those who do drink are doing so at far from safe levels.
With one in five drinkers binging – sinking more than six standard drinks, or three pints, in one sitting – on a weekly basis it is not surprising that the Irish spend €50.6m a week on alcohol.
Worryingly, the research shows that drinking starts at an early age with 25 per cent of people stating they had started to drink (beyond sips and tastes) by 16.
Chief executive of the Health Research Board Dr. Graham Love called on the nation to tackle the negative consequences that can arise from excessive drinking.
“Ireland has a complex relationship with alcohol,” he said.
“Its use has become embedded in our national identity and is often associated with significant cultural and religious events.”
He also expressed concern for national health as it emerged that 60 per cent of us underestimate our drinking levels, which could hint that the figures could be even higher.
The Health Research Board describes one standard drink as one pub measure of spirits, a 100ml glass of wine or half a pint of beer.
Women are recommended to drink no more than 11 standard drinks in a week, and men should restrict themselves to 17.
However the figures show that over a fifth of women and a third of men regularly exceed these recommendations.
For more facts and figures see this week’s edition of the Irish World.
You can view the report in full here.