New research by the European Study Group on alcohol use and Covid-19 has found that, while alcohol consumption fell across 19 European countries between April and July last year, consumption levels remained stable in Ireland.
The study was based on an online survey of 30,000 drinkers, including approximately 500 respondents from Ireland.
Researchers concluded that the reduced availability of alcohol, combined with the impact on concerts, family celebrations and gatherings, were behind the fall in alcohol consumption across most European countries.
However, they also suggested that high levels of Covid-related distress and the “wider adoption of alcohol as a coping strategy” might be reasons why Ireland bucked the trend.
Alcohol Action Ireland, which partnered with the European study, said it was not surprised by the findings.
Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy at Alcohol Action Ireland said: “The study shows that people simply shifted what was significant alcohol behaviour in licenced premises to their homes.”
He continued: “We live in a country where alcohol is our go-to mechanism for coping with stress in many ways.”
Mr McKinney also highlighted the charity’s concerns for the country post-pandemic, predicting permanent lifestyle changes such as drinking at home, and more children being negatively impacted by their parents’ drinking.
“Our concern is that there will be an increase in demand for alcohol treatment services and an increase in demand for child psychology services, both of which are already chronically underfunded.”
Many aspects of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act have yet to come into effect, including further restrictions on the promotion and advertising of alcohol. There are also plans to introduce health warnings on alcohol packaging, similar to those seen on cigarette packets.
Recent studies suggest that Ireland’s rate of alcohol consumption is the ninth highest in the world. Every year, around 3,000 people die from alcohol-related causes in Ireland.
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