Survey finds quarter of adults drinking more during pandemic

More than half now drink on a weekly basis saying it helps them to ‘relax and unwind’

One in four Irish adults are drinking more since Covid-19 restrictions were introduced, a survey from alcohol industry-funded charity Drinkaware has found.

The survey of more than 1,000 adults, which focused on the 30-day period leading up to April 24th, found 52 per cent of adults are now drinking alcohol on a weekly basis compared to 44 per cent of adults surveyed last year.

The frequency of consumption among those who drink has also increased. The study found 14 per cent of adults reported drinking four or more times each week in the past 30 days, with a further 24 per cent consuming alcohol between two and three times a week.

While a quarter of adults reported drinking more, an equal share of respondents reported a decline in alcohol consumption since the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions. Almost one-third said they had made “positive changes” to cut down or cut out alcohol over the past month.



The most cited reason for drinking during this time was “to help relax and unwind”, cited by 88 per cent of respondents. Almost half (47 per cent) said tensions in their household had increased in the past 30 days. While one in five said they had noticed an increase in consumption among other adults in their household.

Drinkaware chief executive Sheena Horgan said the survey, conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes, showed how the "new norm" is changing Irish drinking habits.

“ For some it’s a time to reflect and to change their alcohol consumption. For others alcohol is a coping and stress relief at a difficult time. The use of alcohol to relax or unwind is not new but it is concerning, and at 88 per cent almost universal,” she said.

“As we enter the first phase of easing restrictions, we need to renew our efforts to explore alternative and healthier coping strategies that don’t involve consistent and potentially harmful drinking.”

The Drinkaware website had almost 90,000 visits in April.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times