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New research from Alcohol Concern reveals the nation’s drinking habits


Alcohol Concern recently published some interesting new research into the attitudes and drinking behaviour of the General Public in the UK. Port of Call shares some of the key findings here, some of which make for surprising reading.

As part of new research, entitled ‘The Way We Drink Now’, Alcohol Concern surveyed 1,250 men and women aged 18 and over from all over the UK took part in a 20 minute online survey to gauge their attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol.

The findings of the poll, carried out by independent healthcare market research agency, Adelphi Research UK, in November 2014 makes for interesting reading.

New research from Alcohol Concern reveals the nation's drinking habits

The results of the survey

  • Women are rapidly gaining equality with men when it comes to hard drinking – 41% of drinkers in the possible alcohol dependent category were female.
  • Contrary to the stereotype of the hard drinking working class male, this study found that people with possible alcohol dependence are actually more likely to be of a higher social class (ABC1) and well educated (degree-level or equivalent).
  • The study found that adults who lived with children in the household were statistically more likely to be heavy drinkers, raising questions about the normalisation of excessive drinking for children at an early age.
  • Results suggest that many potential alcohol dependent drinkers exist in a state of denial. With over half (54%) believing that they were ‘fairly normal’ when it came to their drinking habits.
  • Alcohol misuse is contributing to the growing strain on healthcare resources in the UK. In the survey, people with possible dependence were three times more likely to have been admitted to hospital or use A&E than those with a lower drinking risk level.
  • It’s not the case that heavy drinkers don’t care about their fitness. In this study, 65% of those most at risk said that they exercise at least twice a week.
  • Many at-risk drinkers revealed that they regularly visited their GP. Two thirds of those showing risk of alcohol dependence had at least one comorbidity (another simultaneous medical condition), such as depression or anxiety, both of which are strongly linked to excessive alcohol intake.

What we think

Port of Call founder, Martin Preston, said: “Whilst it might not come as a big surprise that more than half of potentially dependent alcohol drinkers are in denial. Nor that they are three times more at risk of being admitted to A&E. These types of findings reinforce the negative spiral we know can arise from problem drinking.

“What does come as a surprise perhaps is that women are rapidly gaining on men when it comes to heavy drinking and that, if current rates continue, it might not be long before there is a 50/50 gender split. Not so long ago, that would have been unheard of.

“The other unexpected finding is that people with possible alcohol dependence are more likely to be from a higher social class and degree educated. This flies in the face of normal rationale and perhaps points towards the hard drinking habits associated with high-flying careers, such as medicine, law and finance.

“Clearly there is a problem with the way we drink in the UK. Many potential heavy drinkers seem to be worried about their general health but are ultimately reluctant to change their relationship with alcohol. Hopefully we can arrest these worrying trends by the time the next survey comes around.”

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