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Alcohol consumption, related costs and harms

How Irish adults drink

  • Although alcohol consumption has dropped in the recent years from a peak of over 14 litres of pure alcohol per capita in the early 2000s, Ireland still has very high levels of alcohol consumption, and related harm.
  • In 2016, alcohol consumption in Ireland was around  11.46 litres of pure alcohol per person per year.1
  • Harmful drinking is very common in Ireland. In 2013, at least 75% of all alcohol consumed was consumed during a binge drinking session.2
  • Over half of drinkers in Ireland do so in a harmful way.3
  • Around 1 in 5 people in Ireland don’t drink.4

How young people in Ireland drink

A study of 15-16 year old students in Ireland5 found that:

  • Around three-quarters of students had tried alcohol
  • Nearly a third of students had engaged in binge-drinking in the past month.
  • 27% had their first experience of alcohol at the age of 13 or younger
  • 77% felt it was ‘fairly easy’ or ‘very easy’ to obtain alcohol

The 2015 survey also showed some positive trends when it comes to alcohol consumption among Irish children, particularly declines in heavy episodic drinking and drunkenness from the 2011 survey.

 

Alcohol-related harm in Ireland

Death:

  • Alcohol causes over 1000 deaths a year in Ireland, or 3 deaths a day.
  • One in four deaths of young men aged 15-39 in Ireland is due to alcohol.6

Illness and injury:

  • The harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions, according to the World Health Organisation, such as liver cirrhosis, heart disease and cancer.
  • Liver disease rates are increasing rapidly in Ireland and the greatest level of increase is among 15-to-34-year-olds, who historically had the lowest rates of liver disease.
  • 900 people in Ireland are diagnosed with alcohol-related cancers and around 500 people die from these diseases every year.
  • Alcohol is a factor in one in four traumatic brain injuries.

 

Suicide and self-harm:

  • Alcohol is a factor in half of all suicides in Ireland.
  • Alcohol is also involved in over a third of cases of deliberate self-harm, peaking around weekends and public holidays.

Dependence:

  • In 2013 there were somewhere between 149,300 and 203,897 dependent drinkers aged 18–75 years in Ireland.
  • Around 7500 people enter treatment for alcohol use every year

Road traffic collisions:

  • The Road Safety Authority found that drink-driving is a factor in 2 out of every 5 deaths on Irish roads. 

Economic costs

  • The financial cost of alcohol to the State was estimated at €2.35 billion in 2013²
  • The estimated cost of alcohol-related absenteeism was €41,290,805 in 2013

Alcohol’s cost to the health service

  • Around 1,500 hospital beds are occupied by people with alcohol-related problems every day.
  • Approximately €1.5 billion was spent on alcohol-related hospital discharges in 2012 (€1 for every €10 spent on public health)
  • Alcohol misuse increases other health costs to the state in terms of A&E services, GP visits, psychiatric admissions and alcohol treatment services

 

Costs to society

  • Alcohol is a significant contributory factor in many cases of child neglect and parental drinking has been identified as a key child welfare issue.
  • Alcohol is a factor in many assaults, including sexual assaults, rape and domestic violence, and manslaughter.
  • Alcohol is a factor in the vast majority of public order offences.
  • At the individual level alcohol can lead to people feeling unsafe in public places, cause problems with relationships and financial difficulties and cause or worsen mental health difficulties

 

For more information on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm in Ireland please visit  http://alcoholireland.ie/facts/

1 http://alcoholireland.ie/facts/how-much-do-we-drink/
2 Long J and Mongan D (2013) Alcohol consumption in Ireland 2013: Analysis of a National Alcohol Diary Survey. Health Research Board, Dublin.
3 Long J and Mongan D (2013) Alcohol consumption in Ireland 2013: Analysis of a National Alcohol Diary Survey. Health Research Board, Dublin.
Mongan D and Long J (2016) Overview of alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm and alcohol policy in Ireland. HRB Overview Series 10. Health Research Board.
52015 ESPAD report
6 Mongan D and Long J (2016) Overview of alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm and alcohol policy in Ireland. HRB Overview Series 10. Health Research Board.

Long J and Mongan D (2013) Alcohol consumption in Ireland 2013: Analysis of a National Alcohol Diary Survey. Health Research Board, Dublin.
http://www.rsa.ie/en/Utility/News/News-2016/Alcohol-a-Factor-in-38-of-Collisions-Between-2008-and-2012/
Dr Ann Hope (2014) Alcohol Literature Review. Department of Health, Dublin

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