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Alcohol statistics on binge drinking

Britain is officially one of the worst countries in the world for binge drinking. That’s the sobering findings of recent research published by the World Health Organisation. Port of Call looks at current alcohol trends, how to find rehab support, and the potential impact of minimum alcohol pricing, and the surprising drinking habits of the baby boomer generation.

Alcohol statistics binge drinking

Britain is seeing double, compared to the rest of the world, according to WHO findings that suggest monthly binge drinking sessions and overall alcoholic intake are both twice the global average here in the UK.

A staggering 28 per cent of Britons admitted to partaking in a session of ‘heavy episodic drinking’ (more than six units, or three pints of lager, on one occasion) in the previous month compared to the world average of 16 percent. That makes us the 13th heaviest drinkers out of 196 countries studied.

As the rest of the world imbibes an average annual intake of 6.2 litres of pure alcohol, here in Britain we’re weighing in with double measures with a whopping 11.6 litres per adult. That places us in the upper quartile, ranking 25th in the world, for our heavyweight overall alcohol consumption.

Minimum alcohol prices

Meanwhile, research by the University of Sheffield, published by bmj.com, has suggested that minimum pricing of alcohol could be 50 times more effective than the Government’s policy of banning loss leader sales.

By their calculations below cost selling would reduce harmful drinkers’ mean annual consumption by just 0.08 percent. That’s the equivalent of about three units a year. In sharp contrast, a 45p minimum unit price could reduce consumption by as much as 3.7 per cent or 137 units a year. A 45-times more effective outcome.

Perhaps not surprisingly then, a ban on below cost selling is likely to return a minimal impact on the health of the nation. In all, an estimated 14 deaths and 500 admissions to hospital would be saved each year. Measure that against the 624 deaths and 23,700 hospital admissions that a 45p minimum unit price could save and the figures really do stack up.

It’s not always the usual suspects either

Pensioners are apparently now almost twice as likely as students to drink at home every day, according to research from consumer analysts, Mintel.

Nearly one in five baby boomers aged over-65s admit to drinking alcohol at home every day. While 42 percent will happily do so several times a week. Compare that to just over one in ten people aged 18 to 24 indulging in a daily drink at home and less than a third doing so twice a week or more.

Just over a quarter of adults claimed to have cut back on their drinking habits at home over the past year and a similar number have curtailed their drinking away from home as well. But perhaps surprisingly, with the constant reports of a culture of teen and twenty-something binge drinkers in the UK, the over-65s are among the least likely to cut back on how their drinking at home (22 percent).

What is binge drinking?

The NHS and National Office of Statistics definition of ‘binge drinking’ is drinking more than double the lower risk guidelines for alcohol in one session. That’s more than eight units of alcohol or about three pints of strong beer for men. For women, it’s more than six units of alcohol or two large glasses of wine.

Binge drinking is a major factor in accidents, violence and anti-social behaviour. It’s also associated with risky behaviours, including a higher chance of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Not to mention health risks such as liver problems, reduced fertility, high blood pressure, increased risk of various cancers and heart attack.

Do you know someone who needs help with their drinking? Are you worried about the amount that you are drinking, or that your drinking habits are linked to drug misuse? Contact Port of Call today 08000029010 to find out what drug rehab and alcohol treatment services are available to help with drinking too much alcohol.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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