herald

Friday 22 November 2019

Third of under-25s admit binge drinking 'to forget problems'

Stressed-out young people are seeking solace in a bottle
Stressed-out young people are seeking solace in a bottle

More than a third of millennials under the age of 25 binge drink every week, with the majority driven to booze "to cope", a study has revealed.

The 2019 Drinkaware Index published yesterday revealed 34pc of people under 25 consume six or more drinks in one sitting each week compared with the national average of 18pc of all drinkers.

Depressed

Sixty-four per cent of under-25s and 58pc of older millennials aged 25 to 34 said they are driven to drink as a coping mechanism to "forget about problems, help when feeling depressed or anxious and cheer up when stressed", the national survey of 1,000 adults revealed.

This compares with the national average of 50pc who cite alcohol consumption as a coping mechanism.

The current generation of under-25s had their first alcoholic drink at 14.3 years of age, compared with the national average of 15.5 years, while 16 or over was the average age their parents or grandparents aged 55 or over had a first tipple.

More than half of under-25s (52pc) cited peer pressure as their main reason for starting to drink.

However, the survey revealed that in more than one in four cases (27pc), it was a parent or close family member who introduced them to alcohol.

"This familial endorsement may contribute to the wider cultural acceptance of drinking that is evident from other responses in this study," the authors said.

They noted previous research by Drinkaware revealed half of Irish parents allowed their children to drink at home before the legal age of 18.

The reasons cited were to de-mystify drinking and to keep tabs on how much their children are drinking.

However, the fact that 74pc of all respondents believe drinking to excess "is just a part of Irish culture" is of concern, given that 21pc of them are drinking at "hazardous" levels that could lead to future health problems.

Drinkaware CEO Sheena Horgan said the survey "has quantified and exposed, for the first time, the collective complacency and cultural acceptance surrounding Irish drinking patterns".

"To get to the heart of the problem, we need to examine and reassess some of our deep-rooted cultural norms and wide acceptance that we are simply excessive drinkers by virtue of our national heritage," she said.

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