When it comes to alcohol consumption, a large proportion of the Irish public may be in denial about the amount they drink. A study from the Health Research Board (HRB) found that found many are failing to recognise the potentially harmful effect their drinking habits may be having. Over 7000 people across Ireland aged 15 and over were interviewed as part of the study, which has been published in the British Medical Journal.

Data compiled in Ireland’s Drug Prevalence Survey from 2014–15, showed that the majority of low risk drinkers were able to accurately estimate how much alcohol they consumed. By contrast, just one-third of regular binge drinkers were able to identify their excessive drinking habits as being harmful to their health. The new study also found just one in three drinkers who fell into the category of being alcohol-dependent still classed themselves as moderate or light drinkers.

Binge drinking is technically defined as any single session in which three or more pints of beer or six or more measures of spirits are consumed. Any individual who experiences alcohol cravings or a lack of control when drinking is classed as alcohol dependent.

Respondents involved in the research were asked about how much they drank and their self-perceptions of their own drinking. The findings showed that while one in five men technically classed as alcohol dependent described themselves to be heavy drinkers, only one in 10 women with similar issues did the same.

The study highlighted that people with drink problems, either alcohol dependent or binge drinkers, were more likely to be aware of their drinking pattern if they had completed third-level education, while older drinkers (aged 65 and over) were less likely to be aware of their problem.

Commenting on the findings, Lead Researcher Dr Deirdre Mongan, expressed concern that many Irish people with alcohol dependence issues believed themselves to be light or moderate drinkers.

“The results of the study highlight that patterns of alcohol use in Ireland are problematic, and that a large proportion of Irish people may be in denial about the potential harmful effects of their drinking behaviour on their health,” she said.

Last month, a charity urged people to ‘rethink their drinking’ after alcohol sales skyrocketed by 93%.

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