Nearly one third of Irish farmers drink at 'harmful' levels, a study into mental health in the farming community has concluded.
The study by DCU questioned 351 Irish farmers using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tool (AUDIT) and found that 28% were teetotal, 43% were moderate drinkers and 29% were drinking at a level harmful to their health.
Dr Anna Donnla O’Hagan of DCU’s School of Human Health and Performance described herself as “really concerned” about the findings.
“So, what they’re doing is [drinking] to harmful levels where it’s actually having an impact where they can’t go about their daily work, their school, their family life,” she told The Pat Kenny Show.
“Also, with regards drug use also, it’s one in 20 of our sample recorded using substances - whereas 1% of the population that we measured are actually using it at harmful levels.”
Among the 5% of Irish farmers who use drugs, 78% exceeded the Drug Use Disorders Identification Test (DUDIT) level of concern.
Dr Donnla O’Hagan said farming is a “high-pressured occupation where they’re in very serious situations.”
“There is that massive risk associated with it,” she added.
“So, it’s the fact that this alcohol and drug use is actually impacting negatively on their normal functioning life and that’s what we’re really concerned with.”
The HSE suggests anyone who feels they are unable to function without using alcohol or finds it difficult to control the amount they drink should contact their GP.
Alternatively, they can ring the HSE Drug and Alcohol Helpline on 1800 459 459 Monday to Friday between 9:30 am and 5:30 pm.
Main image: A farmer on a tractor.