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Saturday 23 August 2014

Almost 40pc of Irish adults binge drink

Binge drinking still a problem as total alcohol intake falls

Published 15/05/2014 | 10:37

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AN international study has found that the amount of alcohol consumed by Irish people is declining – but binge drinking is still a major problem.

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Two-thirds of Irish male drinkers and one-third of women engaged in “heavy episodic drinking” over the previous month, the report says. This is defined in the study as the consumption of at least six standard drinks – such as a small glass of wine or a half-pint of beer – in one sitting.

Overall, almost 40 per cent of all adults here engaged in binge drinking, putting Ireland second out of 194 countries studied, with only Austria recording a higher incidence. In Britain, the rate of binge drinking was 28 per cent.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) global status report on alcohol and health 2014 examined 194 countries.

It revealed that the harmful use of alcohol causes 3.3 million deaths a year worldwide.

The report’s Ireland profile showed that 13.4 litres of pure alcohol were consumed per person in Ireland from 2003 to 2005. That fell to 11.4 litres from 2008 to 2010.

Ireland was outside of the top 10 heaviest drinking countries in the world by this measurement.

Portugal came in 10th with a rate of 12.9 litres of alcohol per person, while Belarus was first with 17.5 litres

DYING

But Alcohol Action Ireland warned that the study also showed binge drinking was a problem.

When the 19pc of non-drinkers aged 15 or over were excluded, the WHO report showed that 62.4pc of men and 33.1pc of women had binged on alcohol in the previous month – 48.2pc of all Irish drinkers.

“How alcohol is consumed can be as important as the quantity consumed,” said Suzanne Costello, chief of Alcohol Action Ireland.

Ms Costello said that binge drinking was defined as taking 60g of alcohol or more on one drinking occasion – at least six standard drinks.

The WHO found that worldwide, around 16pc of drinkers engage in binge drinking, but in Ireland the figure is three times that amount.

“This harmful drinking pattern is reflected by the fact that three people are dying every day due to alcohol in Ireland,” said Ms Costello.

A statement from the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland emphasised that it was an opportunity to discuss the important societal issue of alcohol misuse.

“The report is correct in highlighting the high levels of binge drinking,” it said.

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