Half of Irish adults report using alcohol to cope

Half of Irish adults report using alcohol to cope

For the third consecutive year, over half of adults said they drink on at least a weekly basis.

Over half of Irish adults are using alcohol to cope, according to a new report on the public's drinking behaviour.

The reasons for drinking alcohol given by adults have changed since Covid-19 restrictions were lifted — with 51% citing "coping" as their motivation.

While this is down 20% compared to 2021, it remains worryingly high.

One-in-five increased the amount or the frequency of alcohol consumption since the pandemic began, according to the Drinkaware Annual Barometer 2022.

For the third consecutive year, over half of adults said they drink on at least a weekly basis.

This coupled with the fact that one-in-four now engage in binge drinking when they drink suggests that the pandemic has had an impact on drinking behaviour.

The research, carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes in May/June 2022 reveals a complex relationship between Irish adults and alcohol.

"It is clear through our research that binge drinking has become the normalised drinking experience for Irish adults, and as a collective society we need to act," said Sheena Horgan, CEO for Drinkaware.

"The data consistently reveals that binge drinking is regular, on the rise, and normalised, and the time to act is now if we want to curb these year-on-year increases."

Some of the concerning attitudes to alcohol include 50% believing that "drinking to excess is just a part of Irish culture" and 27% agreeing "we all drink to excess at some stage — it's no big deal".

Mental health

A key concern raised in the findings of the report was the link between mental well-being and alcohol.

As we head into the winter months with a cost-of-living crisis, war in Europe, and Covid-19 still causing concern, Drinkaware is urging the public to be mindful of the impact of alcohol on mental health.

Jennifer Flynn, Director of Communications for Drinkaware said it is no surprise that just 26% reported high mental well-being.

The figure is in stark contrast to the findings pre-pandemic when 63% said they had a high level of mental well-being.

Reports of low mental well-being were found to be highest among those aged 25-34.

Attitudes changing

On a positive note, almost one-third of respondents would like to drink less often with improving mental health cited as one of the top reasons for this change.

The shift in attitude among the public is evident as the appetite for knowledge of the impact of alcohol on mental well-being has grown.

Drinkaware has seen a 35% increase in visits to the section of its website that addresses alcohol's impact on mental health.

Alcohol can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health as alcohol is a depressant that disrupts how the brain functions. It affects thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Drinking alcohol regularly, and particularly binge drinking, can contribute to the development of new mental health problems including depression and anxiety, and can also make existing problems worse, the charity said.

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