These were among the findings of the latest Healthy Ireland Survey from the Department of Health using Ipsos/MRBI data.
Men drink more frequently than women – 60% of men who drink do so at least weekly compared with 46% of women and those aged between 25 and 64 are more likely to drink than those younger or older than this, finds the survey.
Frequency of drinking rises across the age groups before falling again amongst those aged 65 and over – 39% of drinkers aged between 15 and 24 drink weekly, rising to 63% of those aged between 55 and 64 and 59% of those aged 65 and over.
However, “Just over 6 in 10 (61%) of drinkers consume less than six standard drinks on a typical drinking occasion, meaning that almost 4 in 10 (39%) binge-drink on a typical drinking occasion. A similar proportion (41%) indicate that they drink at this level at least once a month, with just under 1 in 4 (24%) doing so at least once a week,” states the report.
Those drinking alcohol consume on average 5.6 standard drinks on a typical drinking occasion. The average is higher for men (7.2) than women (3.9).
Of those who drink, three-quarters (75%) of men aged from 15 to 24 and 38% of women aged between 15 and 24 consume six or more standard drinks on a typical drinking occasion.
The survey states that the rate of binge-drinking in Ireland is second top of the WHO European Region.
The report also looks at social-economic patterns to find lower levels of drinking in more deprived areas and lower social classes (75%) (but higher levels of binge-drinking) where among the least deprived classes 84% drink.
The frequency of alcohol consumption is also higher in less deprived areas and higher social classes.
According to the report, “Amongst drinkers living in the least deprived areas, almost two-thirds (63%) drink at least once a week with 45% drinking multiple times each week, however the equivalent figures for those living in the most deprived areas are lower – 53% and 32% respectively.
“Drinkers in the most deprived decile drink on average 6.1 standard drinks on a typical drinking occasion compared with an average of 5.2 in the least deprived. Similarly, frequency of drinking 6 or more standard drinks is higher in more deprived areas (31% do so at least weekly) than less deprived (23%).”
15% of those drinking at harmful levels felt in the past 12 months that their drinking harmed their health while 22% felt they should cut down on their drinking.
“This survey reaffirms that drinking is a core part of Irish life but more worryingly that drinking to excess on a regular basis is also commonplace throughout the population,” concludes the section of the report on alcohol, “Four out of 10 drinkers in Ireland drink to harmful levels on a monthly basis with over a fifth doing so on a weekly basis. This behaviour is evident throughout the population and is not specifically limited to particular groups.”
The initial wave of this survey involved 7,539 interviews and covered a variety of topics.