Is Ireland’s increasing alcohol prices causing us to drink more?

It may sound like a silly question, but is the increasing price of alcohol in Ireland making us drink more? While the price of alcohol has increased over the years, so too has Ireland’s intake of alcohol. While we are no-where near the highest drinkers in Europe, we still drink our fair share.

While it may seem unlikely that our alcohol intake has increased along with the increase in prices, it’s also very plausible. With drinking out becoming more and more expensive, more people are beginning to drink at home, and more often. Around 63% of people in Ireland drink at home.

Before, people would have only drank at the pub. Nowadays, people pick up a few beers in the shop because it’s cheaper and they have them at home. They enjoy a bottle of wine on some nights, and, as is the case for most young people, they also “pre-drink” before a night out so as to save money. According to Drinkaware, 85% of people in Ireland “pre-drink”.

home drink info

All of this drinking at home however, means people are drinking more often than they would have if they kept drinking solely to when they were in a pub. The high prices for a beer in Dublin, and the rest of the country, means it puts people off going out. After all, why go to a a bar and pay €6 for a beer when you can buy a box of beers for only a couple euro more and have them in the comfort of your own home, playing your own music and in the company of just your friends or family?

According to Drinkaware, twice as many people are drinking at home in Ireland as opposed to in a pub. Wine is the most popular choice of drink, with women drinking four times as much wine as men. It may seem like a cop out, blaming the increasing prices of alcohol on people drinking more at home, but when drinking at home, people are likely to drink more, and more often. Yes, alcohol is not an essential, but for many people, they enjoy having a few drinks as a social gathering. However, when you could end up forking out a small fortune for one beer, it’ no wonder people are drinking at home.

Drinking at home can have a lot of very negative effects. Speaking about this, Dr Liam Twomey, Chief Medical Officer, Drinkaware said,

“The reality is, if you’re drinking alcohol at home it is much harder to keep track of how much you drink and this can often lead to people exceeding the low-risk guidelines in a short space of time. “

Adding, “one of the most common questions we are asked is around wine, where there are a range of different factors at play which makes it difficult to understand your true alcohol intake – the size of the glass, alcohol content, the setting.”

He then went on to explain just how much damage to your waistline you could be doing by drinking one bottle of wine every week.

“Consider this – drinking one bottle of wine every week for a month is roughly the calorie equivalent of eating over 10 cheeseburgers,” he said.

“This is what we need to be mindful of when drinking at home and our new Standard Drink Measure Cup will help people in these situations to know and accurately keep track.”

It’s true. At home we don’t follow the standard measures that they do in pubs. We free pour. So while you may think you’re having “a glass of wine” you could very well be pouring enough wine for two standard measures into your glass at home.

The research by Drinkaware also found that about a quarter of people who drink at home, drink spirits, with women drinking twice as much as men.

“I see it in my own general practice, people are often not aware of how much they are drinking, regardless of the setting, but this is particularly the case if alcohol is consumed at home,” said Liam Twomey.

It’s clear to see that more and more people are drinking at home in Ireland, but there’s no firm evidence to suggest that the increased prices of alcohol are to blame. However, from a personal point, and even from chatting to friends and other people, the cost of drink is a huge reason as to why they would have a few drinks at home, or at least “pre-drink” before a night out.

I think it would be a lot more beneficial if work was done to educate people about the affects of alcohol, and the limits that they should not exceed, as well as ensuring there are adequate facilities in areas so that there is more to do than just “head to the pub”. After all, education is the best way to overcome a problem. Increasing the prices will do little to curb peoples appetite for booze, however, seeing and hearing about the negative affects will do a lot more.

Drinkaware’s drinks calculator is an amazing way of tracking what you’re drinking, and may even shock you into rethinking how much you drink. I did my own calculations for last week, and from the money I spent to the calories I had, I was disgusted.

Here’s an example of what the calculator looks like, from an image sent over by Drinkware.

Drinkaware info

If you want to find out more about how much you’re drinking, you can calculate it using Drinkaware’s drinks calculator.


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