For many years Ireland has been internationally recognised as a nation who enjoy the odd tipple. You only have to browse through the various mementos on sale in such shops as Mary's on O'Connell St, or O'Carrolls on Grafton St, to understand why this image of a boozy nation is so renound worldwide. We intentionally export the jovial image of the drunken leprechaun or of the old man sitting by the fire in his local nursing a pint of Guinness by the fire, yet beneath this humorous faÃ§ade lies a worrying social phenomenon.
In the past decade alone there has been a significant increase in the alcohol consumption of this country whilst the figures for our European counterparts, like France, have reportedly dropped by a third. Ireland and Britain remain the only western countries where there has been an increase in the amount of alcohol consumed. A quarter of all hospital admissions in this country are drink related and over a half of the casualty admissions are for the same reason. At three point five billion euros, we spend more on drink than we do on the health service. According to a recent survey, Irish teens are the biggest binge drinkers in the European Union. Binge drinking is defined as "the consumption of five or more drinks in a row on at least one occasion. In America where there has been a major decline in alcohol consumption in the past decade, their government and media have been aggressively pursuing the problem of alcohol abuse for some time. In recent years the Irish media have been following America's footsteps. There is an increased frequency of articles focusing on alcohol abuse, many of which are littered with shocking facts to strengthen the impact. One such article revealed that drinking by college students alone contributes to 1,400 student deaths, 500,000 injuries and 70,000 cases of sexual assaults or date rape each year. This social phenomenon is not a recent development, but it is becoming progre