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Publication, Part of

Statistics on Alcohol, England 2021

Official statistics, National statistics

National Statistics

Statistics on Public Health

Please note that this publication has now been integrated into the new Statistics on Public Health publication that brings together:

  • Statistics on Alcohol,
  • Statistics on Drug Misuse,
  • Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet,
  • Statistics on Smoking.

In its first iteration it presents the information previously published in these publications in the new format agreed as part of the consultation in early 2022.  The consultation outcomes document can be found below under Resources.

We value your opinions on this new look publication and would welcome your feedback.

We plan to publish updated hospital admissions, mortality and prescribing data for 2020/21 through to 2022/23 later in 2023 with the publication then being produced routinely in the autumn each year.

20 July 2023 09:30 AM


Appendix A: Data sources

Section 1 provides details of the data sources used in parts 1 to 3 of the report. Other key sources of data on alcohol use and misuse can be found in part 4 of the report. Section 2 provides links to further resources relating to alcohol use and misuse.


The statistical sources used in this publication fall into one of three categories: National Statistics; Official Statistics or neither:

National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics. It is a statutory requirement that National Statistics (NS) should observe the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. The United Kingdom Statistics Authority (UKSA) assesses all National Statistics for compliance with the Code of Practice.

Official Statistics should still conform to the Code of Practice for Statistics, although this is not a statutory requirement.

Those that are neither National Statistics nor Official Statistics may not conform to the Code of Practice for Statistics. However, unless otherwise stated, all sources contained within this publication are considered robust.

Further information on the sources used in this publication is provided below.

1. Sources used in this report

1.3 Affordability and expenditure

The affordability of alcohol and expenditure on alcohol have been calculated using economic data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Affordability of alcohol uses two sources:

Expenditure on alcohol uses spending data on goods and services by members of UK households taken from Consumer trends, UK Statistical bulletins.

Appendix B provides details on how the affordability statistics have been calculated.

2. Other resources relating to alcohol use and misuse

2.1 Adult drinking habits in Great Britain [NS]

This report provided annual data for Great Britain on teetotalism, drinking in the week before survey interview, frequent drinking and units drunk, including analysis by sex, age and socioeconomic status. This series has been discontinued and the most recent available data is from 2017.

Adult drinking habits in Great Britain

2.2 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity in England [NS]

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) series includes prevalence estimates of hazardous and harmful drinking and of alcohol dependence in the adult general population. The survey is not run annually and the most recent available data is from 2014.

Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey

2.3 Alcohol Change UK

This charity seeks to help people through information and guidance and to help health professionals through training, projects and research. Their website contains statistics on alcohol and links to further reading.

Alcohol Change UK

2.4 Drinkaware

Drinkaware is an independent charity supported by voluntary donations from the drinks industry and from major UK supermarkets. They work to reduce alcohol misuse and harm in the UK. Their website contains facts about alcohol including drinking habits and behaviours and the impact on health.


2.5 elearning for healthcare

This is an online learning resource for healthcare and social care professionals working to reduce alcohol-related harm.

elearning for healthcare

2.6 Home Office – research and analysis series

The Home Office conducts research on alcohol, drugs, and antisocial behaviour to support policy development and operational activity.

Alcohol and drug research and analysis

2.7 Infant Feeding Survey [NS]

The Infant Feeding Survey (IFS) covers the population of new mothers in the United Kingdom and includes information on the drinking behaviours of women before, during and after pregnancy.

This survey was last run in 2010 and the series has now been discontinued.

Infant Feeding Survey

2.8 Mental Health of Children and Young People Survey

The Mental Health of Children and Young People Survey provides data on the mental health of 6 to 23 year olds including alcohol use.

Mental Health of Children and Young People Survey

2.9 National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) provide national guidance and advice to improve health and social care. This includes products on alcohol, including any guidance, NICE Pathways and quality standards.

NICE products on alcohol

2.10 NHS.UK – Alcohol support

This website provides information the effects of binge drinking and tips on reducing alcohol intake and the associated health benefits.

Alcohol support

2.11 Sustainable Development Goals

2.12 What About YOUth?

What About YOUth? is a survey aimed specifically at 15 year olds and includes questions on the drinking behaviours among children.

It was run for the first time in 2014 and it is hoped it will be repeated in the future.

What About YOUth? Survey

Appendix B: Technical notes

These notes help to explain some of the measurements used and presented in this report.

Affordability data

Affordability of alcohol gives a measure of the relative affordability of alcohol, by comparing the relative changes in the price of alcohol, with changes in households’ disposable income per capita over the same period (with both allowing for inflation).

Relative changes in the price of alcohol are calculated using the relative alcohol price index (RAPI) which shows how the average price of alcohol has changed compared with the price of all other items and is calculated as follows:

RAPI = (alcohol price index / Retail Prices Index)*100

Changes in households’ disposable income are calculated using the Adjusted Real Households’ Disposable Income (ARHDI) index which tracks changes in real disposable income per capita.

The Relative Affordability index of alcohol is calculated as follows:


If the affordability index is above 100, then alcohol is relatively more affordable than in the base year, January 1987.

Drugs used to treat alcohol dependency

The two main drugs prescribed for the treatment of alcohol dependence are Acamprosate Calcium (Campral) and Disulfiram (Antabuse). In May 2013 a new drug Nalmefene (Selincro) was launched. Details of how these drugs work is provided below:

Acamprosate Calcium (Campral) – helps restore chemical balance in the brain and prevents the feelings of discomfort associated with not drinking, therefore reducing the desire or craving to consume alcohol.

Disulfiram (Antabuse) – produces an acute sensitivity to alcohol resulting in a highly unpleasant reaction when the patient under treatment ingests even small amounts of alcohol.

Nalmefene (Selincro) – is the first medicine to be granted a licence for the reduction of alcohol consumption in people with alcohol dependence. It helps reduce the urge to drink in people accustomed to large amounts of alcohol but does not prevent the intoxicating effects of alcohol.

Naltrexone is also prescribed for alcohol dependence. It is not included in this report however, as it can also be used to treat drug dependence and the condition that Naltrexone is prescribed to treat is not available within the prescribing data.

Appendix C: Laws and policies

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines

In 2016, the UK chief medical officers issued new guidelines on how to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level.

UK chief medical officers’ low risk drinking guidelines

In 2017 guidance was published setting out how the UK chief medical officers' advice on alcohol and its health risks can be communicated to the public on product labels.

Communicating the UK chief medical officers’ alcohol guidelines

Policing and Crime Act

The Policing and Crime Act includes alcohol licensing provisions.

Policing and Crime Act: alcohol licensing

Modern Crime Prevention Strategy

The modern crime prevention strategy builds on new research, techniques and technology to update the way we think about crime prevention. The strategy includes research on the links between alcohol and crime.

Modern crime prevention strategy

NHS Health Check programme

NHS Health Check programme includes an alcohol risk assessment to provide support where needed ranging from brief advice to a referral to specialist alcohol service.

NHS Health Check

Commissioning for Quality and Innovation

The Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) framework supports improvements in the quality of services and the creation of new, improved patterns of care. This includes the delivery of advice to hospital patients on alcohol consumption and where appropriate referral to treatment.

Commissioning for Quality and Innovation

Making Every Contact Count

Making every contact count (MECC) is an approach to behaviour change that utilises the millions of day to day interactions that organisations and people have with other people to encourage changes in behaviour that have a positive effect on the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and populations. This includes reducing alcohol consumption.

Making Every Contact Count

NHS: Better Health

Better Health provides free tools and support to encourage people to make healthy changes, including drinking less.

Better Health: Drink less

Appendix D: How are the statistics used?

Users and uses of the report

From our engagement with customers, we have many known users of Statistics on Alcohol. However, since this publication is free to access through the NHS Digital website, there are also many unknown users of these statistics. We are continually aiming to improve our understanding of who our users are in order to enhance our knowledge on how they use our data. This is carried out via consultations and feedback forms available online.

In 2015 a consultation was carried out to gain feedback on how to make the report more user-friendly and accessible while also producing it in the most cost-effective way.

Findings of the Consultation

In response to the feedback received, the format of the report was changed for the 2016 report.


Below is listed our current understanding of the known users and uses of these statistics. Also included are the methods we use to attempt to engage with the unknown users.

Known Users and Uses

Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) use these statistics to inform policy and planning as shown in Appendix C.

NHS use the reports and tables for analyses, benchmarking and to inform decision making.

Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) use these data for secondary analyses.

Media - these data are used to underpin articles in newspapers, journals and other articles.

Public Health Campaign Groups - data are used to inform policy and decision making and to examine trends and behaviours.

Public - all information is accessible for general public use for any particular purpose.

Ad-hoc requests – the statistics are used by NHS Digital to answer Parliamentary Questions (PQs), Freedom of Information (FOI) request and ad-hoc queries. Ad-hoc requests are received from health professionals; research companies; public sector organisations, and members of the public, showing the statistics are widely used and not solely within the profession.

Unknown Users

This publication is free to access via the NHS Digital website:

Statistics on Alcohol

Consequently, the majority of users will access the report without being known to us. Therefore, it is important to put mechanisms in place to try to understand how these additional users are using the statistics and to gain feedback on how we can make these data more useful to them. On the webpage where the publication appears there is a Contact us link at the bottom of the page. Any feedback is passed to the team responsible for the report to consider.

Last edited: 14 July 2023 11:00 am