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National Statistics
Publication

Statistics on Alcohol, England 2019 [PAS]

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National statistics
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Part 4: Drinking behaviours among adults

This section presents a range of information on drinking behaviours among adults including drinking prevalence, consumption and trends among different groups of society and geographical areas.

The main data source is the Health Survey for England (HSE) which is published by NHS Digital and has been carried out since 1994. The survey is designed to measure health and health-related behaviours in adults and children in England.

Adult substance misuse statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) provides information on the number of people being treated for alcohol problems.

Health at a Glance, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), provides international comparisons on alcohol consumption.

Data have been provided for England unless otherwise stated. 

 

 

Proportion of adults1 drinking at increased or higher risk of harm, 2011-2017

The proportion of men and women usually drinking at increased or higher risk of harm decreased between 2011 and 2017 (from 34% to 28% of men, and from 18% to 14% of women).

Bar chart showing Proportion of adults drinking at increased or higher risk of harm, 2011-2017

Proportion of adults drinking at increased or higher risk of harm, by age and sex

The proportion of men and women usually drinking over 14 units in a week varied across age groups and was most common among men and women aged 55 to 64 (36% and 20% respectively). Proportions drinking at these levels then declined among both sexes from the age of 65.

Bar chart showing proportion of adults drinking at increased or higher risk of harm, by age and sex

 

Proportion of adults drinking at increased or higher risk of harm, by equivalised household income and sex

The proportion of adults usually drinking at increased or higher risk of harm was highest in higher income households for both men and women, with 35% of men and 19% of women.

In the lowest income households, 20% of men and 12% of women drink at increased or higher risk of harm. When looking just at higher risk, there were no differences by income.

Bar chart showing Proportion of adults drinking at increased or higher risk of harm, by equivalised household income and sex

 

Estimated weekly alcohol consumption, by region and sex

The proportions of men and women who had not drunk alcohol varied across regions.  Among men, the highest proportions of non-drinkers were in London and the lowest proportions in the South West. Among women, the highest proportions were in London and the West Midlands, with the lowest proportion in the North East.

Bar chart showing estimated weekly alcohol consumption, by region and sex

 

Number of days on which drank alcohol in the last week, by age and sex

63% of men and 52% of women had drunk alcohol in the last week. The proportion of men and women drinking in the last week increased with age and was highest among both men and women aged 55 to 64 (72% and 63% respectively).

11% of adults drank on five or more days in the last week (14% of men and 9% of women). Drinking on five or more days increased from 2% of adults aged 16 to 24, to 18% of adults in each of the three oldest age groups.

Bar chart showing number of days on which drank alcohol in the last week, by age and sex

 

Maximum amount drunk on any day in the last week, 2006-2017

The proportion of men who drank more than 8 units in a day dropped from 24% in 2006 to 19% in 2017, with a gradual decline since 2009.

The proportion of women drinking more than 6 units in a day decreased between 2006 and 2017 from 16% to 11%.

Line graph showing maximum amount drunk on any day in the last week, 2006-2017

Drinking prevalence for adults – international comparisons

 

UK alcohol consumption2 has decreased between 2000 and 2016. Lithuania, France and Czech Republic have the highest alcohol consumption3.

Bar chart showing  drinking prevelence for adults, by country

Numbers in treatment for alcohol problems – last 10 years

 

In 2017/18, 76 thousand were treated for problematic drinking alone which was a 6% decrease on the previous year.

28 thousand were treated for non-opiate and alcohol problems.

Line graph showing number in treatment for alcohol problems 2007/08 to 2017/18

 

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1. Adults have been defined as persons aged 16 and over

2. Uses most recently available annual figure during the period 2015 to 2017.  UK data is for 2016.  More details are available in the source data.

3. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Health Statistics.

Last edited: 1 February 2019 11:46 am