Drinkaware wants Ireland to think before they drink this holiday season. This doesn’t mean abstaining from alcohol altogether; it’s simply about being mindful of how much alcohol you consume, and how often.

“As we approach the end of a very tough year, it’s worth reflecting on how our habits have changed during the pandemic,” a representative says. “We know from our research that one in four adults say they are drinking more during COVID-19. On the other hand, an equal quarter report drinking less.”

Before the pandemic, 23% of adults in Ireland self-identified as non-drinkers; showing growth in the low- and no-alcohol, sober-curious trend. Being sober-curious means questioning how often, how much and why we drink as opposed to just “going along” with our prevailing drinking culture.

“People who choose to go alcohol-free or drink in a more mindful way, make the change to improve physical and mental health,” Drinkaware states. “This is a positive trend we as a nation should embrace as we enter the new year with a fresh outlook.”

Drinkaware most recently collaborated with Ireland’s first alcohol-free pub, The Virgin Mary Bar, for their Drink Better at Home campaign. By visiting the Drinkaware website, you’ll find festive no-alcohol drink recipes and support (drinkaware.ie).

There are many no-or-low alcohol options on the market.

Drinkaware’s top tips for responsible drinking over Christmas

1 Reframe your perception of “alcohol-free”

Instead of thinking you’ll be “missing out” by not drinking, think about all the positive things you will gain. By choosing a soda water and lime in place of your usual spirit, you’ll have more energy to get up and out the next day and more motivation to do what you had planned.

2 Recognise triggers for unhealthy habits

A bad day at a work? Feeling disconnected? If your immediate response is to have a drink, acknowledge this and replace it with a healthier, alternative action.

3 Be mindful of how much you drink at home

Pre-COVID-19, drinking at home was already the new norm in Ireland with 61% of all weekly drinking occasions taking place in the home. If you decide to drink at home over Christmas, use a measure for wine or spirits. “Generous” home measures, top-ups and large glasses make it almost impossible to know how much you are really drinking (you can order a free measure at drinkaware.ie).

4 Get to know the low-risk guidelines

Home drinking can lead to unintentional binge drinking (six or more standard drinks in one sitting). Low-risk drinking reduces your risk of alcohol-related health issues, yet 98% of adults in Ireland do not know the guidelines. Eleven standard drinks spread over the week for women, with at least two to three alcohol-free days; and 17 for men will keep your drinking low-risk.

Raising the bar

The Virgin Mary Bar has an online shop with a range of speciality alcohol-free spirits and cocktails if you’re looking for a fun gift for the non-drinker in your life (thevirginmarybar.com).