Thursday 18 January 2018

40pc of Irish women among 1.35m of us drinking harmfully

Almost 40pc of young women are drinking more than the recommended weekly health guidelines, research has revealed.
Almost 40pc of young women are drinking more than the recommended weekly health guidelines, research has revealed.
Couple drinking - picture posed

As thousands of drinkers prepare to end their Lenten abstinence, both women and men in Ireland continue to underestimate both the harm caused by alcohol and the amount they consume.

Although significant numbers continue to go 'on the dry' for Lent, the Health Research Board has declared that 1.35 million people in Ireland are "harmful drinkers".

Almost 40pc of young women are drinking more than the recommended weekly health guidelines, research has revealed.

The amount of alcohol being consumed by women aged 24 or younger is not a great deal less than their male counterparts.

While 44pc of young men are exceeding the weekly recommended guideline for alcohol, some 39pc of women aged between 18 and 24 are drinking excessively.

READ MORE: 'I would talk myself into a second glass then try to talk myself out of it'

Wine is the most common alcoholic drink consumed by women aged over 25 with almost 60pc opting for wine. But women aged 24 or younger are choosing stronger drinks, with almost 60pc consuming spirits as their most common drink. Both women and men here are drinking considerably more than world health recommendations.

"We are still consuming alcohol far above the HSE recommended low-risk levels," said the Health Research Board's chief executive Dr Graham Love when a national survey was published in 2014.


"Based on the figures in the report, more than 150,000 people are dependent drinkers, more than 1.35 million are harmful drinkers and 30pc of people interviewed say that they experienced some form of harm as a result of their own drinking," he said.

The weekly guidelines for low-risk alcohol consumption are 16.8 standard drinks for men and 11.2 standard drinks for women.

When the survey results were published, deep concern was expressed that the overall patterns of drinking in Ireland continue to be harmful. Irish people's perceptions of their drinking need to change, the survey concluded. The report showed people who defined themselves as "light-to-moderate drinkers" actually drank six or more standard drinks in a typical drinking occasion, which is binge-drinking, said Dr Jean Long, a co-author of the report .

The survey revealed that two out of three adults aged up to 24 consumed six or more drinks in a typical drinking session. One in eight men surveyed and one in 10 women drank their recommended weekly guidelines in one sitting in the week prior to the survey. Men and women aged 24 or under drank twice that in one sitting.

Harmful drinking levels are indulged in by 54pc of all Irish drinkers. Harmful drinking is highest among 18-24 year olds with 75pc of them exceeding healthy limits. More than one in seven of young adults were alcohol dependent.

The report stated that the results showed that "harmful drinking is the norm in Ireland," in particular for women and men under 35 years.

The survey results, when multiplied to include the entire adult population, indicated that adults in Ireland consumed 4.2 litres of alcohol per person over 18 years.

However, Revenue's provisional figures for 2013 indicated that 10.6 litres of alcohol per capita were sold in Ireland, which implies that Irish people reported only 39pc of their alcohol consumption.



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