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14th Jul 2021

Increase in weekly alcohol consumption for 18-24 year-olds during pandemic

The data also found that men are more than twice as likely to engage in binge drinking than women.

Weekly alcohol consumption has increased by 13% for 18-24 year-olds during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the annual Drinkaware Barometer released by Drinkaware Ireland on Wednesday.

The barometer provides an overview of drinking behaviour in the country over the past year as well as how the behaviours formed in the initial lockdown last year have transformed into more established patterns and new rituals towards the drinking of alcohol.

Drinkaware cited that the biggest concern the data revealed was the increase in binge drinking, as on an average day of drinking in 2021, over one in five (22%) of those who drink reported drinking six or more standard drinks in that single setting, compared to 20% in 2020.

The data also found that men are more than twice as likely to engage in binge drinking than women and that 18-24-year olds are more likely to binge drink than other age groups.

Amongst people who drink in Ireland, 49% admitted binge drinking in the past 30 days, compared to a figure of 46% in the 2020 DrinkAware barometer and a figure of 36% in 2019, before the onset if Covid-19 pandemic.

As far as younger drinkers are concerned, 31% of the 18-24 age group reported binge drinking in 2021 compared to 16% during the initial phase of lockdown in 2020, an increase of 15%.

The 2021 survey also saw 30% of people report a desire to drink less, particularly amongst those who are currently binge drinking (40%) and amongst the 50% of those surveyed who have increased their alcohol consumption over the past 12 months.

The survey also found that 37% of people have already made small positive changes to their drinking behaviour, an increase on the figure of 31% in 2020.

“What is really striking this year is the important recognition of their unhealthy consumption by those who binge drink and those who say their drinking has increased in the past 12 months, because these are among the key groups saying they want to drink less,” Drinkaware CEO Sheena Horgan said.

Horgan added that she believed more “widespread public education and engagement is needed” as well as “practical support” as she is concerned that the behaviours could “continue post Covid-19”.

“Many people are unhappy with the amount they are drinking and without the agency and empowerment to make the desired changes these behaviours and attitudes will continue post Covid-19,” she added.

“There is a gap between the increase in binge drinking and the desire to drink less, and this needs to be closed with information and support that is helpful and user-friendly.”