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Survey: Binge drinking on the rise despite minimum alcohol pricing

One in four Irish drinkers now engages in binge drinking when they consume alcohol, a new survey has claimed.

According to the annual Drinkaware Barometer by Behaviour & Attitudes, the number of people who binge drink has continued to increase year on year, and the number of people who drink “at least weekly” remains high.
Binge drinking is defined as consuming at least 60 grams or more of pure alcohol – i.e. six normal drinks – in a single sitting.

The research, which was conducted earlier this year, found that 55% of Irish people who drink engaged in binge drinking in the last 30 days – an increase of 20% compared to 2020.

In addition, fewer adults surveyed “don’t drink” than before the pandemic.

In 2020, 28% of those surveyed said they “don’t drink.” Now that figure is only 17%.

This is despite the fact that the government’s minimum unit alcohol pricing policy has been in effect since January of this year, substantially increasing the price of alcohol with an aim of curbing binge drinking.

Last May, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly explained the rationale for Ireland introducing minimum unit alcohol pricing: “Because there is powerful evidence this works.”

At the time, Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Frank Feighan, added: “We know from our modelling and from the evidence from Scotland that minimum unit pricing impacts the most on high-risk, harmful drinkers.”

However, earlier this year the British Medical Journal in Scotland released data seeming to show that not only does minimum unit alcohol pricing not reduce drinking in many cases, but it may actually cause heavy drinkers to drink even more.

It’s also been found that take-home sales of alcohol in Ireland had increased since minimum unit pricing was introduced.

 

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