Over half of the population drinks on a weekly basis with half admitting to binge drinking in the last 30 days, up from 36% pre Covid.
That’s according to the latest Drinkaware Barometer survey which found a concerning increase in binge drinking among the population.
Binge drinking or “heavy episodic drinking” is defined as consuming six or more standard drinks in one sitting. This is the equivalent of three pints of cider, six bottles of lager or four glasses of prosecco.
More than a fifth of Irish drinks now report drinking six or more standard drinks on an “average day of drinking.”
Males are more than twice as likely to engage in binge drinking than females with the 18-24 age cohort most likely to engage in this type of drinking.
Weekly consumption among the younger age group has also seen the largest increase from 38% in 2020 to 51% this year.
Drinkaware CEO Sheena Horgan said this year’s Barometer may be the most important one they have conducted to date because the findings reveal what potentially harmful drinking patterns have become normalised.
“We know through our research and our extensive engagements with the public, that people want to drink differently. What is really striking this year is the important recognition of their unhealthy consumption by those who binge drink and those who say their drinking has increased in the past twelve months, because these are among the key groups saying they want to drink less.”
Some 30% of those surveyed said they want to drink alcohol less often, compared to 24% last year.
However, there is “a gap” between the increase in binge drinking and the desire to drink less, she said, and this needs to be closed with “information and support,” Ms Horgan said.
Previous research by Drinkaware reveals a lack of understanding among Irish of what constitutes binge drinking with just 1 in 10 able to correctly identify the three standard drink measure with only 2% able to correctly cite the HSE Low Risk Weekly Guidelines.
Meanwhile, a separate piece of research published this week suggests alcohol may have caused more than 1,000 new cancer cases in Ireland last year, or around 4% of all cases.
The research, published inmedical journal, estimates some 670 men and 380 women were diagnosed with cancers linked to alcohol consumption last year, 4.6% of all cases in men and 3% in women.
“Risky” heavy drinking, defined as more than two drinks per day, accounts for most alcohol-caused cancers, but even moderate to low levels of alcohol consumption can be linked to cancer cases, the study found.