Binge drinking

January 01, 2020

According to the HSE, Binge drinking is defined as drinking six or more standard drinks in one sitting. Common examples of one standard drink are a half pint of lager/stout/cider, a 100ml glass of wine (at 12.5% ABV) or pub measure (35.5ml) of spirits. On average, it takes one hour for the body to process one standard drink.

Here are some examples of a standard drink.

  • A pub measure of spirits (35.5ml)
  • A small glass of wine (12.5% volume)
  • A half pint of normal beer
  • An alcopop (275ml bottle)
  • A bottle of wine at 12.5% alcohol contains about seven standard drinks.


As part of the industry’s drive to inform the public about the dangers of excessive drinking it set up the DrinkAware charity. DrinkAware aims to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse through evidence-based programmes. The charity is directly funded by the drinks companies and governed by an independent voluntary board. Its ultimate aim is to delay the age of a person’s first drink and to reduce the numbers of adults that drink above the HSE’s low-risk weekly drinking guidelines.


What are the low-risk drinking guidelines?
Low risk weekly guidelines for adults are:

  • up to 11 standard drinks in a week for women
  • up to 17 standard drinks in a week for men.


Drinks should be spaced out over the week, not consumed in one sitting. Drinking more than the safe levels may cause harm.

Remember, drinks measures are not always the same. What you get in a pub and what you pour for yourself could be very different.

These weekly limits do not apply to teenagers or to people who are pregnant, ill, run-down or on medication. It is healthier for teenagers not to drink alcohol.


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While overall alcohol consumption per capita has fallen significantly in the past 20 years, there has only been a marginal decline in the rate of binge drinking in Ireland in recent years. The 2018 Healthy Ireland Survey, a report commissioned by the Department of Health, showed that 37% of drinkers binge drink on a typical drinking occasion while 22% of drinkers binge drink at least once a week. In 2015 the Health Ireland Survey showed that 39% of drinkers binge drink on a typical drinking occasion with 24% doing so at least once a week.