Alcohol is the second most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the UK (after caffeine) and is highly prevalent in personal and social situations. Nearly 30 million adult Brits say they drink alcohol, an indication of alcohol's ubiquity and presence in so many areas of British society today.

Brits' drinking habits have evolved over time in various ways, and have in turn affected the health of different social groups.

For example, since the year 2000, the gap between men and women’s alcohol consumption has closed markedly, the proportion of underage drinkers (defined here as those who purchase alcohol for consumption before they reach the minimum legal purchase age of 18) has receded, young drinkers' intake (adults between 16 and 24 years of age) has become less frequent (but no less heavy), and survey data appear to show alcohol-related health issues mounting among a generation of older-aged Brits (those between 45 and 64 years of age), who appear to be relatively heavier drinkers than previous generations.

The resources on this webpage provide information about alcohol’s impact on different demographic groups.

Resources available on this page:

  • Frequently Asked Questions about 'Alcohol across society', with infographics presenting the most up-to-date statistics on the subject
  • Factsheets providing an in depth perspective on the subject of 'Alcohol across society'
  • Publications, Blogs, and News tagged 'Alcohol across society' for further reading

Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the total costs of alcohol to society?
What proportion of underage children drink alcohol?
What proportion of young adults in the UK drink alcohol?
What proportion of older adults in the UK drink alcohol?
What proportion of women in the UK drink alcohol?
What proportion of men in the UK drink alcohol?
What is the alcohol harm paradox?
How much do workplace hangovers cost the UK economy?

Publications (View all)

Exploring men’s alcohol consumption in the context of becoming a father: A scoping review

Exploring men’s alcohol consumption in the context of becoming a father: A scoping review

February 2021
IAS response to Early years healthy development review: call for evidence

IAS response to Early years healthy development review: call for evidence

October 2020
Men and alcohol: Key issues

Men and alcohol: Key issues

September 2020

Blogs (View all)

Alcohol problems and insurance

18th November 2020 | Jonathan Goodliffe
Alcohol problems and insurance

Insurance is not usually associated with alcohol problems, but there are good reasons for focusing on the two subjects in conjunction, as they give rise to multiple problems, argues Jonathan Goodliffe Read more »

News (View all)