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When it comes to alcohol abuse, the Irish aren't the worst in the world

We’re actually the fourth worst, according to a new report.

Image: Shutterstock/Kamira

IRISH PEOPLE ARE the fourth worst abusers of alcohol in the world, according to a new study.

The new wide-ranging report from the OECD, Tackling Harmful Alcohol Use, concludes that Ireland lags only behind Estonia, Austria and France when it comes to alcohol consumption per head of population.

In fact, Irish people drink 11.7 litres of pure alcohol on average per year, with the average for OECD countries being 9.1 litres per year.

The OECD average has decreased by 2.5% in the last 20 years, but this statistic is fired largely from  a dramatic fall in consumption in Southern European countries, with substantial increases being seen in more northern countries like Ireland.

oecd Top Ten highest consumers of alcohol (OECD - litres per capita) Source: OECD

The OECD average itself is twice the average for non-OECD countries around the world.

Other worrying findings from the report include an increase in hazardous binge drinking among young people, especially women, while girls have now effectively caught up with boys in terms of the age at which they start drinking.

Most alcohol is drunk by the heaviest drinking 20% of the population in the countries examined.

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While Ireland has seen a significant increase in consumption of roughly 4% in the last 20 years, this is dwarfed by the increases seen in Russia, Estonia, India and China.

change oecd 2 Change in adult alcohol consumption, 1992-2012 Source: OECD

The country that has seen the greatest drop in consumption over that time period is Italy, with a more than 40% drop seen.

“The cost to society and the economy of excessive alcohol consumption around the world is massive, especially in OECD countries,” said OECD secretary-general Angel Gurría in a press statement to launch the new report.

This report provides clear evidence that even expensive alcohol abuse prevention policies are cost-effective in the long run and underlines the need for urgent action by governments.

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