Binge drinking among low to moderate risk drinkers is responsible for most of the alcohol-related harm that occurs in Ireland.
That’s according to a study from the Health Research Board (HRB) which examined how alcohol-related harms are distributed across four types of drinker in Ireland — low risk drinkers, occasional binge drinkers, monthly binge drinkers and dependent drinkers.
Some examples of the harms looked at were harms to friendships, harms to home life, being in an accident, being stopped by the police, harms to work and harms to health.
The study found the majority of alcohol-related harms experienced were accounted for by drinkers who were not dependent on alcohol. Dependent drinkers were found to be at greater individual risk of experiencing alcohol-related harms compared to low and moderate risk drinkers.
Head of the Evidence Centre at the HRB Jean Long said the results confirmed a long-held theory about how alcohol-related harm is distributed. “This affirms a theory called the prevention paradox, which states the majority of alcohol-related harms in the population are caused by low-risk and moderate risk drinkers, and not by high-risk drinkers. This is because the number of high drinkers in the population is so few.”
“We wanted to establish if this prevention paradox applied in an Irish context given Ireland has one of the highest per capita rates of alcohol consumption and binge drinking in the EU.”