Page last updated: June 2022

Report on the impact of Covid-19 on alcohol behaviour and attitudes in Ireland

The Drinkaware Barometer is an annual survey that measures the behaviours and attitudes of adults towards alcohol in Ireland. “A year on – Irish adult’s behaviour and attitudes towards alcohol in the context of Covid-19”, published in April, provides an insight into the lived experience of the pandemic for adults in Ireland in 2020-2021. The research was carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults. Key findings from the report include:
• 55% adults reported drinking on a weekly basis in 2021 versus 52% in 2020 (44% in 2019)
• 49% indicate binge drinking in the past 30 days versus 46% in 2020 (36% in 2019)
• 61% indicated frequently drinking for coping reasons (60% in 2020, 50% in 2019)
• Low mental wellbeing peaked among 25–34-yrs at 43% as well as those that increased their consumption in the past twelve months
• 18-24-year-olds reported significant levels of stress/tension, whereby 66% said it had increased during the initial lockdown phase in 2020, but a year on in 2021, 39% reported no change to their levels of stress/tension, and 37% reported an increase in stress/tension in 2021.
• There was a positive rise in those reporting they would like to drink alcohol less often – 30% in 2021 versus 24% in 2020
• There was a positive rise in those who said they had already made small positive changes – 37% in 2021 versus 31% in 2020.
Specific population groups have experienced negative changes regarding alcohol include:
• Families with pre-school children were most likely to report increased alcohol consumption across household type/ life stage in either amount of alcohol consumed, or frequency of drinking, in the past 12 months (28%).
• Men reporting binge drinking on a typical day of drinking, rose from 27% in 2020 to 31% in 2021.
• 18-24 year olds reporting binge drinking on a typical day of drinking increased to 31% in 2021, from 16% at the time of the initial lockdown phase in 2020.
The research, also reveals important positive trends. In 2021, 37% of survey respondents said they had made small positive changes to their drinking habits in the past 12 months and 30% reported that they would like to drink less, both representing increases on the 2020 figures of 6%. 1 in 3 adults say that they will continue to decrease their consumption in 2021 as 35% indicated they have decreased the amount of drinks they have had and 33% have decreased the frequency of drinks since COVID-19. Of those who have decreased their alcohol consumption, the 18-24 age cohort were the most likely across all age cohorts to report both a decrease in the amount at 41% and a decrease in frequency at 45%.
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