One in five feel ‘guilt or remorse’ after consuming alcohol

Healthy Ireland Survey 2017 findings reveal the extent of Irish people’s drinking habits

One in five Irish people said they experienced ‘guilt’ or ‘remorse’ after drinking alcohol in the last 12 months, according to  a new survey.  File photograph: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

One in five Irish people said they experienced ‘guilt’ or ‘remorse’ after drinking alcohol in the last 12 months, according to a new survey. File photograph: Philip Toscano/PA Wire


One in five Irish people experienced “guilt” or “remorse” after drinking alcohol in the last 12 months, according to the Healthy Ireland Survey 2017 published on Tuesday.

The survey, which was conducted by Ipsos MRBI and interviewed 7,487 people, found that 76 per cent of people consumed alcohol, and 54 per cent drank alcohol at least once a week. The age cohort with the highest rate of alcohol consumption was those aged between 25 and 44, 85 per cent of whom drink alcohol.

One in 10 people said they had at times “failed to do what was normally expected of them because of drinking”.

The survey, which has been carried out annually for the last three years, found the rate of smoking had declined slightly over the last year, from 23 to 22 per cent.

The proportion of people who drink sugar-sweetened drinks daily has increased from 14 to 16 per cent, according to the survey.

The survey was launched on Tuesday by junior minister for health promotion Catherine Byrne and the Department of Health.

It also found that 62 per cent of 35- to 44-year-olds were classed as overweight or above, and 75 per cent of 45- to 55-year-olds.

The survey revealed that 15 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds were obese, and 9 per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds.

Overall, the amount of people classed as overweight was 39 per cent, and the rate of obesity was 23 per cent.


The age group with the highest prevalence of smoking was 25- to 34-year-olds, at 34 per cent.

The report found that the smoking rate was higher among men (25 per cent) than women (20 per cent).

Some 40 per cent of smokers had used e-cigarettes or “vapes”, while only 1 per cent of people who had never smoked cigarettes said they had used e-cigarettes.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Ms Byrne said the drop in smoking rates was “positive”, but that the high number of young people still taking up smoking was a problem, and the State “was not out of the woods yet” on combating the issue.

Ms Byrne said she was looking to try and make the grounds of Leinster House a dedicated smoke-free zone.

“Not being a killjoy about it, but when we’ve brought it into hospitals and other places, we need to look at what we’re doing ourselves as legislators,” she said.

“We have to gradually bring it in, but there’s a lot of people very interested in the Dáil, and even in my own party, at looking at the campus being tobacco-free.

“I’m not saying it’s going to happen tomorrow, but it’s a step in the right direction and we need to talk about it.”

Alcohol Bill

Ms Byrne added: “The survey findings clearly show the problems we have with alcohol and that we drink too much alcohol. I am particularly concerned about the finding that over half of all young drinkers binge-drink on a typical drinking occasion, which is a significant threat to their health both now and in the longer-term.

“It is absolutely critical that we change the place that alcohol has in our lives and our society, which is the aim of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.”

She said politicians had waited “too long” to bring the alcohol Bill back onto the floor of the Dáil for discussion.

The Bill, which would place restrictions on alcohol advertising, sponsorship, and placement in retail stores, was first introduced in the Seanad in October 2015, but has stalled following heavy lobbying from industry groups and retailers.

Speaking at Tuesday’s launch, Kate O’Flaherty, head of the health and wellbeing programme at the Department of Health, said the data from the survey was “a very valuable asset to assist the Department of Health and our other partners working for a healthy Ireland.

“Researchers in the HSE and academic organisations are using the data to look at particular themes, such as social inequalities in obesity and smoking rates, and to examine the links between positive health behaviours and mental wellbeing.”

Other findings in the survey included:

– 35 per cent of people eat at least one unhealthy food (sweets, cakes and biscuits, salted snacks, pastries, fried foods) every day;

– Nearly half (49 per cent) of those with children said one of their children was breastfed,

– 21 per cent of people have had a HIV test and 22 per cent have had an STI test during their lifetime.