Survey reveals Irish people think Ireland has a drinking problem, but say that they personally do not
Ireland has long had a complicated relationship with alcohol.
While it is a huge part of our social lives and very much a public affair, Irish people’s relationship with alcohol is often questioned.
In our recent Slice Of Ireland survey, we asked over 3,000 JOE readers - men and women of all ages - about their personal relationship with alcohol and we found some interesting, and some might say, slightly worrying results.
A massive 80% of people think that Ireland has a harmful drinking culture.
It's not surprising that this is the consensus considering the fact that alcohol is responsible for 88 deaths every month in Ireland, which is over 1,000 deaths per year.
Conor Cullen, Head of Communications and Advocacy of Alcohol Action Ireland spoke to JOE about these results.
"Sadly, the results of the survey are not surprising. You would expect the vast majority of people to recognise and accept that Ireland has an alcohol problem, given the huge burden that harmful drinking places on individuals, families and communities throughout Ireland."
Personal relationship with alcohol
25% of people surveyed said that they feel have a very healthy relationship with alcohol, and a further 40% would describe their relationship with drink as somewhat healthy.
Only 3% of people said that their drinking habits were very unhealthy.
6 in 10 people have blacked out from drinking. A quarter of people say it only happened once, yet 43% of people said it happened more than once.
Blackouts should not be a normal part of a night out. The worryingly high number of blackouts is reflective of our high levels of binge-drinking according to Conor.
"Being unable to remember parts of what happened during a night is a real sign that you are drinking far too much.
"Blackouts happen because high levels of alcohol in your brain interfere with its natural filing systems and if it occurs regularly it can impair your ability to take in, understand and remember new information on a daily basis.
People are also at risk during the blackout, when they are ‘not themselves’ - they may do something dangerous, while they are also at greater risk of being exploited by others."
34% of men said that they have driven with alcohol in their system while 19% of women have done the same.
Conor told JOE that this statistic was hugely concerning.
“The continued problems surrounding drink driving reflect the serious issues we have with alcohol in Irish society and our general ambivalence towards them."
Although most people will point the finger at society for the harmful drinking culture, we may be in denial about our own habits.
Taking into account that a total of 66% of people chose to describe their relationship with drink as 'healthy', the exact same percentage of people have also blacked out while drinking.
"All too often we seek to paint this is as a problem for someone else, not ourselves. It’s important to remember that it is not just the person who drinks too much who suffers in Ireland.
"Our high levels of harmful drinking have an impact on us all, regardless of our personal relationship with alcohol.
"These impacts include the huge burden it places on the health service and every tax payer, but also the many innocent victims of alcohol-fuelled assaults or drink-driving collisions and the thousands of Irish children suffering every day due to harmful parental drinking, a key child welfare issue that is all too often ignored" Conor said.
After examining all of the survey's results, Conor had this to say..
"In some respects we are in collective denial about our alcohol problem and we have normalised harmful drinking and the fallout from it to the extent where many of us don’t recognise that we are drinking in a harmful way ourselves.
Alcohol is part of many people's social lives, but many are not recognising that they themselves are part of the problem and instead generalise that the country as a whole has an issue.
You can find out more about the recommended low-risk weekly alcohol consumption guidelines here.
The national Directory of Drugs and Alcohol Services can be found here.