UK: A quarter of adults drink too much - new research

21 May, 2009

UK: Men drink more excessively than women and a quarter of all adults in England drink too much, according to new research. 

One in three men and one in six women – a quarter of all adults in England - are estimated to be hazardous drinkers, says a new report from The NHS (National Health Service) Information Centre.

The Statistics on Alcohol England 2009 report claims that in 2007, the drinking habits of 33 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women were classed as hazardous, which means their established drinking patterns put them at risk of physical and psychological harm.

Six per cent of men and two per cent of women were estimated to be harmful drinkers, the most serious form of hazardous drinking, which means they are likely to suffer physical or mental harm, such as liver disease or depression.

In 2007 nine per cent of men and four per cent of women showed some sign of alcohol dependence. The figure for men is slightly lower than in 2000 when 11.5 per cent of men showed signs of drinking dependence. The figure for women is not significantly different from 2000.

The report Statistics on Alcohol: England, 2009, brings different information on alcohol together from a variety of sources.

It also includes figures on drinking dependence that allow a comparison between 2000 and 2007 to be made. The report also shows that the annual number of alcohol related admissions to hospital in England rose by nearly 70 per cent in five years to reach just over 863,000 in 2007/08.

Researches gauged these figures from the proportion of hospital admissions for reasons that are not always related to alcohol, but can be in some instances (such as accidental injury).

In England in 2007 there were 134,429 prescription items for drugs for the treatment of alcohol dependency prescribed in primary care or NHS hospitals and dispensed in the community. This is an increase of 31 per cent since 2003, when there were 102,741 prescription items.

The report also includes survey information about attitudes to alcohol. It estimates that in 2007, 17 per cent of school pupils aged 11 to 15 thought it was okay to get drunk at least once a week. However the proportion of pupils who have never had a proper alcoholic drink was 46 per cent in 2007 compared to 39 per cent in 2003.

NHS Information Centre Chief Executive Tim Straughan said: “An estimated quarter of adults are at risk of damaging their mental or physical health because of their drinking habits. “The report shows a significant amount of people are at risk of actual harm to themselves, which in turn results in more work for the NHS.”

The report is available at:


Nick Strangeway

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