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Ireland has the second highest rate of binge drinking in the world

Men are more likely to engage in binge drinking with 62.4 per cent of male drinkers over the age of 15 saying they had engaged in heavy episode drinking in the last 30 days.

Image: Cait Loper via Flickr

Updated 22.48

A REPORT FROM the World Health Organisation has revealed that Ireland has the second highest rate of binge drinking in the world.

The global status report on alcohol and health found that 39 per cent of all Irish people aged 15 and over had engaged in binge drinking, or “heavy episode drinking” in the last month.

The figures put Ireland ahead of Britain’s 28 per cent and just behind Austria’s 40.5 per cent, out of 194 countries.

Binge drinking is defined as drinking at least six standard drinks (60g of alcohol on one drinking occasion.

Men are more likely to engage in binge drinking with 62.4 per cent of male drinkers over the age of 15 saying they had engaged in heavy episode drinking in the last 30 days, compared to 33.1 per cent of female drinkers.

The report also confirmed beer as the alcoholic beverage of choice for Irish drinkers, followed by wine and then spirits.

Commenting on the results of the report today, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland, Suzanne Costello, said: “Alcohol increases people’s risk of developing more than 200 diseases, including liver cirrhosis and several forms of cancers, and as it is not only the volume of alcohol consumed, but also the pattern of drinking over time that affects the risks of harm, a large amount of Irish people are putting themselves at risk of health harms due to their binge drinking.”

“The WHO has found that worldwide about 16 percent of drinkers engage in binge drinking, but in Ireland it is three times this amount and this harmful drinking pattern is reflected by the fact that three people are dying every day due to alcohol in Ireland and 2,000 hospital beds are occupied here every night by people with alcohol-related illnesses,” she said.

This effective normalisation of drunkenness in our society has been fuelled by the widespread availability of cheap alcohol, which is then very heavily promoted, with young people a particular focus of these powerful and sophisticated advertising and marketing campaigns.

The organisation said key areas of alcohol pricing, marketing and availability need to be tackled if we are to begin to change Ireland’s drinking culture.

Read: Alcohol kills more than AIDS, tuberculosis and violence combined – WHO>

Read: Drinking’s role “airbrushed” out of reporting of Irish alcohol-related deaths>

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