A new Health Research Board report has revealed that in 2019, the average Irish person drank the equivalent of 40 bottles of vodka, 113 bottles of wine or 436 pints of beer.
These figures make Ireland the country with the ninth-highest rate of alcohol consumption in the world.
Coupled with the fact that one in four people in Ireland abstain from alcohol completely, this means that the level rises to 53 bottles of vodka per person every year among those who drink.
More than half (52.3%) of drinkers were classed as hazardous drinkers by the report’s authors, using the World Health Organization’s AUDIT-C screening tool. In contrast, one in four people surveyed reported that they had not consumed any alcohol during the last year, with women and those aged 65 and over most likely to abstain completely.
The report found that hazardous drinking was more common among men, with around 70% of men engaging in dangerous levels of drinking. Those in the 15 to 24- year-old age group were almost twice as likely to be classified as hazardous drinkers compared to those aged 65 and over.
Over the last 25 years, the way Irish people consume alcohol has changed. Between 1998 and 2018, the country saw a 21% decrease in the number of pubs, and a 407% increase in off licences.
However, the report found that the rate at which Irish people are drinking has remained stable at a very high level since 2013. While Ireland’s pubs were closed throughout most of 2020, the level of alcohol consumption only fell by 6.5%, which indicates higher levels of alcohol consumption at home.
The research concluded that “a majority of drinkers in Ireland consume alcohol in a manner that is risky to their health.” It also highlighted concerns about the effects of increased alcohol consumption on Irish children.
In one in six Irish homes, children have experienced harm due to someone else’s drinking. The report also showed that “children exposed to parental drinking at high levels are vulnerable to adverse outcomes.”
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