Public demand for the facts regarding alcohol soared in 2020

More than half a million people turned to Drinkaware for information and advice as its Annual Report shows positive progress but cautions more collaboration is needed

Drinkaware today revealed that, in a year where more people than ever want to cut down their alcohol consumption, demand for its information, advice, and tips reached record highs. In 2020, engagements on Drinkaware’s Facebook page alone soared by nearly 400% (392% on 2019).

Other key findings from its Annual Report include:

  • 552,194 people visited www.drinkaware.ie (+5% on 2019)
  • Instagram engagements 1,221 (+163% on 2019)
  • 117,000 page views of Covid-19 digital content

Public interest in reducing their alcohol consumption, and getting the facts regarding the benefits of doing so, were the most viewed pages on the website in 2020.Drinkaware also reported orders of the free resources were up 156% on 2019.

  • 11,134 individual people placed an order for a free resource in 2020
  • 96,000+ measure cups, booklets, calculator wheels, and posters were ordered 

The Report highlights Drinkaware’s alignment, as the national charity working to prevent and reduce the misuse of alcohol, with related elements of Healthy Ireland’s recently launched Strategic Action Plan 2021-2025:  specifically, Drinkaware’s commitment to empowering people to play a role in their own health and wellbeing; and to the value of taking a ‘whole of society’ approach to public health.  Drinkaware’s Report echoes Healthy Ireland’s commitment to using evidence and measurement as it lists the outcomes and the impacts of the charity’s work in education and positive attitude and behaviour change.

Recent data from Drinkaware’s Annual Barometer reveals a further positive shift and trend towards more mindful drinking, which is the focus of much of Drinkaware’s digital and social content. Key findings from the survey include:

  • 30% of respondents would like to drink less often (+6% on 2020)
  • 37% have already made small positive changes to their drinking habits (+6% on 2020)

However, the charity cautions that more work and greater collaboration and co-operation is needed as the number of those who drink on at least a weekly basis is steadily increasing (55% 2021 vs 44% in 2018) and levels of risky/hazardous drinking are still evident:

  • 22% of those who drink have typically ‘binged’ when they have drank (Barometer 2021)
  • Levels of binge drinking have almost doubled amongst 18–24-year-olds (16% in 2020, 31% in 2021)

Drinkaware also points to consistent low awareness of the HSE low-risk guidelines, which remain at 2-3% in 2021, as a critical area of focus if hazardous and harmful drinking are to be redressed going forward.

Drinkaware’s identification of a more mindful drinking trend reflects the recent CSO figures that overall consumption in Ireland is moving in the right direction, but stresses that the data needs to be carefully interpreted.

Launching the 2020 Annual Report, Drinkaware CEO Sheena Horgan commented:

“Our 2020 Annual Report shows strong evidence of continued public interest in getting the facts around alcohol and understanding the harms associated with drinking, which is extremely positive. The tremendous increase in engagement across our social platforms and, with over half a million visits to the website, is evidence that Drinkaware’s approach to supporting people to make better decisions regarding their alcohol consumption is working.”

“However, our research also shows a consistent lack of knowledge amongst the general public of the low-risk weekly guidelines, which is concerning, as they play a vital role in helping people understand the harms and support positive behaviour change. We strongly believe that to challenge this, and indeed to challenge the misuse of alcohol, more collaboration is needed from both civil society but also government bodies, educators, industry, and the media in order to meet this shared goal.”