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The resources on this webpage provide information about alcohol’s impact on different demographic groups.
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.
Facts and stats
- Alcohol harm costs society between £27 and £52 billion every year, between 1.4% and 2.7% of national income. (Burton R, 2017)
- Alcohol harm costs the NHS at least £3.5 billion every year, although this is likely an underestimate (NHS)
- The OECD calculates that the cost to the UK healthcare system stands at 3%, which by 2023 figures would mean a cost of over £8 billion. (OECD, 2021)
What are the total costs of alcohol to society? by The Institute of Alcohol Studies
The phenomenon where as the level of socioeconomic deprivation increases, so does alcohol-specific mortality, despite such groups consuming less alcohol
What is the alcohol harm paradox? by The Institute of Alcohol Studies
- Every year, workplace hangovers are estimated to cost the UK economy between £1.2bn and £1.4bn
How much do workplace hangovers cost the UK economy? by The Institute of Alcohol Studies
- Incidence rates for alcohol-related domestic violence among the most disadvantaged groups were up to 14 times higher compared with the least disadvantaged (IAS, 2020)
- 1 in 5 people in England had been harmed by others drinking alcohol over a single year. (Beynon, C. et al, 2019)
- In England, approximately 200,000 children are predicted to live with an alcohol dependent parent. (Pryce, R. et al. 2017)
- These children are six times more likely to experience domestic violence, three times more likely to consider suicide, and two or three times more likely to go on to have addiction problems themselves. (Nacoa, 2023)
- People who experience homelessness have an increased risk of problem drug and alcohol use and are at increased risk of a range of acute and chronic harms including poisoning, seizures, liver disease, cancers, assault and injuries, putting them at high risk of premature death. (Parkes et al. 2021)
- Alcohol-specific causes accounted for almost one in 10 (9.6%) of estimated deaths of homeless people registered in 2021. (ONS, 2022)
- 9% of people starting treatment for alcohol in 2021/22 reported a housing problem. (OHID, 2023)
Acceptable, accessible and affordable – but at what cost?
15th November 2023
Seeking ‘honest’ conversations online: how is alcohol and pregnancy talked about on Mumsnet?
14th November 2023
Rainbows in June: Selling alcohol to LGBTQ+ people
4th October 2023
How much does health behaviour contribute to socioeconomic inequalities in alcohol harm?
22nd June 2023
How the cost of living crisis affects alcohol harm
18th April 2023
Drinking Alone Predicts Future Alcohol Problems
22nd March 2023
How Does Drinking Alcohol Increase Suicide Risk – and How Can it Be Managed?
7th March 2023
‘It’s everywhere’: Considering the impact of alcohol marketing on people with problematic alcohol use
1st March 2023