Daily Archives: 22/04/2015

Alcohol in the UK key facts and figures

I’ve been meaning to write this kind of post for a while.   I’ve been doing an online course with the Substance Misuse Management in General Practice (SMMGP) that covers all this data so thought I would put it up here now and then it’s done! So here it is – alcohol in the UK key facts and figures.

Let’s start with the key data:

Definitions of alcohol misuse (please click to open document to see definitions)

Prevalence of alcohol use disorders:


So just to underline that data 17.6 million fall into the drinking at increasing risk and above category (although some of those will be occasional binge drinkers only).  In the UK there are 51.2 million people over the age of 16 (ONS, 2011) so that is 34% or 1 in 3 ……

Alcohol and the NHS:

  1. Alcohol is the third highest risk factor for ill health after high blood pressure and tobacco.
  2. One in five adults seeing a GP drink at hazardous or harmful levels
  3. Problem drinkers consult their GP twice as often as average patients
  4. 35% of A&E and ambulance costs are alcohol related

Problem drinking, families and communities:

  1. Almost half of violent assaults are alcohol related
  2. There are strong links between alcohol abuse and domestic violence and marital breakdown
  3. 27% of children serious case reviews mention alcohol abuse
  4. 16% of road fatalities involve alcohol

Annual cost of alcohol related harm:

  1. Total cost to society £21 billion
  2. Crime in England £11 billion
  3. NHS in England £3.5 billion
  4. Lost UK productivity £7 billion

There are effective treatments for the range of alcohol misuse problems and United Kingdom Alcohol Treatment Trials (UKATT) show that for every £1 spent on evidence based treatment the public saves £5.

And having studied the Kings College Understanding Addiction course that figure rises to £8 saved if you tackle addiction within adolescence.

There is so much more we could be doing to help people both sooner in terms of age of onset of problem drinking and also sooner in terms of offering support and help while people are still reachable before physical addiction is triggered.  As Unpickled said – you don’t wait until someone is morbidly obese before you suggest a healthy eating plan so why would you wait until someone is physically addicted to alcohol before you offer assistance to quit?

Edited to add: 13.17 I apologise if you’ve been trying to access the site in the last 4 hours and have been unable to do so.  My website server has been under DDoS attack.  Hopefully full service has now been restored 🙂

Edited to add: 26th June 2015

Statistics on Alcohol, England, 2015

This statistical report acts as a reference point for health issues relating to alcohol use and misuse, providing information obtained from a number of sources in a user-friendly format. It covers topics such as drinking habits and behaviours among adults (aged 16 and over) and school children (aged 11 to 15); drinking-related ill health and mortality; affordability of alcohol; alcohol-related admissions to hospital; and alcohol-related costs. The report contains previously published information and also includes additional new analyses | HSCIC, UK