Statistics on Alcohol, England 2009 released

The NHS Information Centre has released a new collection
of statistics related to alcohol consumption and harm in England and the

The report shows how alcohol is now 75% more affordable
than it was in 1980. While the increase in the price of alcohol from
2007 to 2008 was the largest yearly rise experienced since the early
1990s, real households’ disposable income also increased a great deal in
the same time period. The real price of alcohol has increased again,
after falling in the previous five years.

Main findings:

Drinking behaviour among adults and children

  • In 2007, 73% of men and 57% of women reported drinking
    an alcoholic drink on at least one day in the week prior to interview. 
    13% of men and 7% of women reported drinking on every day in the
    previous week.

  • In 2007, 41% of men drank over 4 units on at least one
    day in the week prior to interview and 34% of women drank more than 3
    units on at least one day in the week prior to interview.  25% of men
    reported drinking over 8 units and 16% of women reported drinking over 6
    units on at least one day in the week prior to interview. 

  • The method used for calculating the number of alcoholic
    units drunk changed in recent years, so a complete time series is not
    available. Using the original method, among men between 1998 and 2006
    the proportion drinking more than 8 units on at least one day of the
    week prior to interview fell from 22% to 18%, among women drinking more
    than 6 units on at least one day of the week prior to interview, no such
    reduction was seen.

  • In 2006, 31% of men reported drinking more than 21 units
    in an average week. For women, 20% reported drinking more than 14 units
    in an average week.

  • Using the original method of unit conversion, among men
    between 1998 and 2006 the proportion drinking more than 21 units a week
    on average fell from 28% to 23%, the percentage of women drinking more
    than 14 units in an average week fell from 15% to 13% in the same time
    period.  In 2007, 20% of school pupils aged 11 to 15 reported drinking
    alcohol in the week prior to interview; this figure is lower than 2001,
    when 26% of pupils reported drinking in the last week.  

  • In 2007, 46% of pupils said they had never had a proper alcoholic drink, compared to 39% in 2003.

  • In 2007, pupils who drank in the last week consumed an average of 12.7 units.

Knowledge and attitudes to alcohol

In 2007:

  • 92% of men and 89% of women reported that they had heard
    of measuring alcohol in units. There was less knowledge of the
    recommended maximum daily intake; 35% of men and 47% of women had heard
    of units but said they didn’t know what the recommendations were for
    men, and 39% of men and 43% of women similarly knew about units but said
    they did not know the recommendations for women.

  • 16% of men and 14% of women who had drunk in the last year said they would like to drink less. 

  • 41% of pupils thought it was OK to drink alcohol once a week and 17% thought it was OK to get drunk at least once a week.

  • 73% of girls and 66% of boys agree that ‘People of my age drink to be sociable with friends’

Drinking related costs, ill health and mortality

  • In 2007, 33% of men and 16% of women (24% of adults)
    were classified as hazardous drinkers. This includes 6% of men and 2% of
    women estimated to be harmful drinkers, the most serious form of
    hazardous drinking, which means that damage to health is likely. Among
    adults aged 16 to 74, 9% of men and 4% of women showed some signs of
    alcohol dependence. The prevalence of alcohol dependence is slightly
    lower for men than it was in 2000 when 11.5% of men showed some signs of
    dependence. There was no significant change for women between 2000 and

  • In 2007/08 there were 863,300 alcohol related admissions
    to hospital. This is an increase of 69% since 2002/03 when there were
    510,200 alcohol related admissions.

  • In 2007/8 62% of alcohol related admissions were for
    men. Among both men and women there were more admissions in the older
    age groups than in the younger age groups.

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

  • In 2007, in England, there were 6,541 deaths directly
    related to alcohol this has increased by 19% since 2001. Of these
    alcohol related deaths, the majority (4,249) died from alcoholic liver

  • It is estimated that the cost of alcohol related harm to the NHS in England is £2.7 billion in 2006/07 prices.

Copyright © 2009, The Health and Social Care Information Centre. All Rights Reserved.


The report, Statistics on Alcohol, England 2009, is available here. (pdf 608kb)

The accompanying tables are available here