Home > National Drug Treatment Reporting System 2015 – 2021 alcohol treatment data.

Lynch, Tiina and O'Neill, Derek and Lyons, Suzi (2022) National Drug Treatment Reporting System 2015 – 2021 alcohol treatment data. Dublin: Health Research Board. Statlink Series 9.

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In this bulletin, trends in treated problem alcohol use are described for the seven-year period from 2015 to 2021. The data are taken from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS), the national surveillance system that records and reports on cases of drug and alcohol treatment in Ireland.

[Please note: the full report is currently being updated and will be available shortly (September 2022)]

Overview

In this seven-year period, 50,304 cases were treated for alcohol as a main problem.

  • The number of treated cases recorded decreased from 7,618 in 2015 to 6,859 in 2021
  • The proportion of new cases decreased slightly from 46.6% in 2015 to 44.1% in 2021.

Level of problem alcohol use

  • In 2021, the median age at which cases first started drinking alcohol was 16 years, unchanged from previous years.
  • Almost two-in-every-three (65.9%) cases were classified as alcohol dependent.
  • In 2021, 62.3% of new cases were classified as alcohol dependent, compared to 57.0% in 2015.
  • The proportion of previously treated cases classified as alcohol dependent increased from 66.7% in 2015 to 70.2% in 2021.

Socio-demographic characteristics

  • In 2021, the median age of treated cases was 42 years, an increase from 41 in previous years (43 years for females; 41 years for males).
  • The majority of cases in 2021 were male (62.6%).
  • The proportion of cases with an Irish Traveller ethnicity was 1.9% in 2015 and 2.4% in 2021.

Almost half (48.8%) of cases in 2021 were unemployed.

  • In 2021, 8.3% of cases were homeless (females 3.9%; males 10.9%).
  • The proportion of cases that were homeless increased from 7.5% in 2015 to 8.3% in 2021.
  • In 2021, 21.2% (1,451) of cases treated for alcohol were currently residing with children aged 17 years or younger.

Polydrug use

Polydrug use was reported by almost one-quarter (23.7%) of those treated for problem alcohol use in 2021. This was an increase from 18.7% in 2015.

  • Cannabis was the most common additional drug used. The proportion of cases reporting cannabis use declined from 59.9% in 2015 to 55.3% in 2021.
  • Cocaine was the second most common additional drug recorded. This increased from 32.5% in 2015 to 53.9% in 2021.
  • Of cases with cocaine as an additional problem in 2021, 56.9% were males and 46.8% were females.
  • Benzodiazepines were the third most common additional drug reported (21.9%) in 2021.
  • Opioids were the fourth most common additional drug reported (12.5%) in 2021.

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