Press Release

Minister Shortall launches Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol Related Harm in Ireland

Róisín Shortall, T.D. Minister for State with responsibility for Primary Care today launched Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol Related Harm in Ireland.  This is the latest in a series of bulletins arising from data collected in the Drug Prevalence Survey 2010/11.

The survey found that alcohol-related harm is not restricted to the drinker but has negative consequences for families, friends and the wider community.  Approximately 20% of respondents experienced some form of harm as a result of their drinking, with men twice as likely as women to report harm.  Harm as a result of the drinking of others was experienced by 27%.

Among the findings were

  • 87% of adults aged 18-64 years consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months (13% non drinkers);
  • almost 30% of current drinkers consumed alcohol in a harmful pattern at least once a week;
  • over half of current drinkers engage in binge drinking at least once a month (72% of 18-24 year olds);
  • 73% of those aged 18-24 years drank at least five standard drinks and 31% consuming at least nine standard drinks per drinking occasion;
  • Across all age groups, men drink more frequently, drink more on one single occasion and engage in more harmful drinking than women.

“Instances involving excessive consumption of alcohol over the summer period, leading to anti-social behaviour and violence at large public events, are among the latest overt illustrations of the problem.  The subsequent public reaction to such events may indicate that such blatant public drunkenness and negative behaviour can no longer be tolerated by the vast majority of our people.  Increased focus on the availability of cheap alcohol, excessive drinking and associated anti-social behaviour is awakening us to the realities of the situation and the need to do something about it.” said Minister Shortall.

The Minister added: “It is crucial that we as a society reduce the overall level of alcohol consumed in Ireland and also tackle the problems of alcohol misuse.  I am determined that effective steps will be taken over the coming period to address problems associated with alcohol across our society”.

(Full report at

Further Information

Notes to Editor

The National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) advises the Government on problem drug use in Ireland in relation to prevalence, prevention consequences and treatment based on analysis and interpretation of research findings.

The survey was conducted between October 2010 and May 2011 and comprised a representative sample of people aged 15-64. It achieved 7,669 respondents (5,134 in Ireland and 2,535 in Northern Ireland).

The 2010/11 results is the third drug prevalence survey taken for the island of Ireland.  While earlier surveys included questions on alcohol consumption, 2010/11 marks the first time a comprehensive series of questions on both the rates and patterns of alcohol consumption in Ireland and on alcohol related harm have been included.

Lifetime prevalence is a cumulative measure of the total number of people who have ever tried drugs and includes many who have done so in the past.  While valuable for other purposes, lifetime prevalence is not ideal for monitoring drug use prevalence in the general population. Recent or current levels of drug use as measured in the last year or last month are more appropriate indicators.

The survey is jointly undertaken between the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and the Public Health Information and Research Branch of the Department of Health, Social Services & Public Safety in Northern Ireland and measures the prevalence of key illegal drugs as well as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs including tranquillisers and anti-depressants.