Almost 90 per cent of people in the Midlands regularly engage in binge drinking, according to a recent survey.
The survey was undertaken by Nutrition and Dietetic students from Dublin Institute of Technology, Sinead Duignan and Cathriona Loonam, who are currently on a work placement with the HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster.
The most shocking finding of the survey, which was carried out on male and female individuals across all age groups, was the excessive amounts of alcohol consumed on a single occasion, with a dangerous pattern of binge drinking strongly evident.
Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of five units or more of alcohol on a single occasion. Some 86 per cent of respondents surveyed consume greater than the recommended five units in one night. Approximately 35 per cent consume greater than 20 units per night, while some individuals consume up to 40 units per night.
According to a spokesperson from the HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster, there are a large number of health problems associated with this pattern of alcohol consumption. These include alcohol poisoning; liver disease; high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks; brain damage; unintentional injuries such as car accidents and falls; and public disorder resulting in injuries from street and domestic violence.
“Worryingly, 100 per cent of people surveyed were unaware of the recommendations for safe alcohol intake and the majority of these did not realise that their current alcohol intake exceeded recommendations.
Much confusion was found to exist around what a unit of alcohol is and how many units are safe to have on one night,” said the spokesperson.
For safe alcohol intake, current Irish and UK guidelines recommend less than 14 units per week and a max of 2-3 units on a single night for females, and for males 21 units per week and a max of 3-4 units on a single night. These guidelines also recommend having some alcohol-free days in the week.
A unit of alcohol is equal to half a pint of beer of 3.5 per cent volume, a pub measure of spirits, or a small glass of wine, measuring 100mls.
The HSE recommends some simple strategies which will help reduce the amount of alcohol consumed in one sitting:
If you do drink alcohol, drink slowly. Take sips, not gulps and put your glass down between sips.
Avoid drinking in rounds. If you do get into a round, ask for a non-alcoholic drink instead.
Quench your thirst. You will drink alcohol faster if you are thirsty, so have a non-alcoholic drink before drinking alcohol.
Don’t let people top up your drinks - it’s harder to keep track of how much you have had.
If drinking at home, use smaller glasses as home measures tend to be more generous and therefore have more units - for example wine glasses for home use can hold a half to a full bottle of wine (500-750ml ).
Watch out for the snacks – one of the problems with drinking is what you consume with alcohol – chips, nuts, etc, which can make you thirstier!
For every alcoholic drink consumed, drink one non-alcoholic drink.