Only one in three binge drinkers see their drinking as harmful

Only one in three regular binge drinkers are aware of their alcohol pattern.

According to a study by the Health Research Board, most people with alcohol problems underestimate how much they drink.

A third of people who are alcohol-dependent consider themselves 'light' or 'moderate' drinkers.

Women are also less likely than men to admit to alcohol dependence.

A recent study from the Health Research Board (HRB) looked at harmful and hazardous drinking among Irish people and found drinkers underestimated the amount of alcohol they drink.

The main findings of the report were that only one in three regular binge drinkers recognised their binge drinking as harmful to their health, while people who were alcohol dependent considered themselves as either ‘light’ or ‘moderate’ drinkers.

It also found one in two people who were alcohol dependent described themselves as ‘light’ or ‘moderate’ drinkers who ‘sometimes binge drink’.

Commenting on the findings, the lead researcher Dr Deirdre Mongan says the findings are concerning.

The results of the study highlight that patterns of alcohol use in Ireland are problematic, and that a large proportion of Irish people may be in denial about the potential harmful effects of their drinking behaviour on their health.

"It is particularly concerning that so many Irish people with alcohol dependence believe themselves to be light or moderate drinkers, especially in light of the fact that in Ireland, those who are alcohol dependent are most likely to experience alcohol-related harm.

The people who most accurately estimated how much alcohol they drink were those deemed low risk drinkers. Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, interim chief executive of the HRB said: "This HRB study illustrates that further initiatives to reduce overall consumption and hazardous and harmful drinking patterns and raise awareness around drinking patterns are required. A diverse range of public health policies targeted at the entire population is most appropriate, given the fact that a majority of harmful and hazardous drinkers underestimated the amount of alcohol they drank."