Irish people have always had a bad reputation when it comes to drinking. We are often portrayed as a nation that does nothing more than drink heavily. This of course is untrue. We have produced excellent minds such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and W.B Yeats. We are a nation rich in culture with some of the most talented and educated young people in the world, but if you take a walk down Harcourt St. on a Monday night, you may think otherwise.
Students in this country, for the most part, have worked very hard to reach the position they are in. This hard work is continuous and it can be very stressful. From the obvious difficulties of keeping your grades up, to the issues of self-esteem and confidence, students do not have it easy. This could be a reason that so many see binge-drinking at least once a week as a suitable solution.
Students in this country drink to get drunk. Night outs in Dublin are rarely quiet evenings and even people who plan on going out for a “drink or two” tend to find themselves in Coppers at 3 a.m wondering how they got there. The culture of drinking until you’re drunk is a something that we are strangely proud of in this country. A common conversation you hear on a night out is “Man I’m hammered; I had 6 cans for pre-drinks and have had 10 jager bombs since we’ve got here.” This is somehow regarded as an achievement among students.
It makes a certain sense to drink cheap alcohol before going into a club where you fear they might rip you off, but pre-drinking before going to a house party is one of the most illogical ideas around. We drink stupid amounts of alcohol in a house, in preparation for drinking stupid amounts of alcohol in a house. Pre-drinks as a concept is flawed and it is part of the reason why drinking is such a problem in this country.
All of this binge-drinking is not without consequences. According to the Health Research Board, in 2013 there was 3 alcohol related deaths a day in Ireland. That is 21 a week. Some 900 people in Ireland are diagnosed with alcohol related cancers every year, and 500 people a year die from them. Drink driving is responsible for two out of every five road deaths in Ireland. The attitude towards drinking needs to change in this country, and it needs to start with young people. If we as a generation can manage to learn how to enjoy ourselves more responsibly, maybe we can find the perfect balance between having a drink to help enjoy ourselves, and drinking to get hammered.
Image Credit: Laura Horan