Rehab 4 Addiction

There is a well-known and often glamourised, drinking culture among University students in the UK. Because most people attend University at 18, when they have only just reached the legal drinking age and might not have figured out their limits yet, it is common for students to drink excessively.

However, more students are now reporting that they do not drink alcohol at all, and recent research suggests that levels of alcohol consumption by students are decreasing.

Students’ Drinking Behaviours

  • From 2005 to 2015, the percentage of 16-24-year-olds in England who do not drink alcohol increased from 18% to 29% 1
  • In the 2007/2008 academic year, 58% of students at Leeds Metropolitan University (LMU) were found to be regularly drinking at hazardous levels 2
  • 70% of students at LMU admitted to binge drinking at least once 2
  • 80% of LMU students stated that they were following the UK government’s guidelines of having two consecutive alcohol-free days each week 2
  • A study conducted in 2011 found that 92.5% of undergraduate students at Coventry University (aged 18-24 years) were classed as binge drinkers 3
  • 90% of Coventry University students in 2011 stated that they were not aware of safe drinking guidelines 3
  • A study conducted across 7 UK Universities in 2008-2009 reported that 17% of current students were abstaining from alcohol, and 7.7% had never tried alcohol 4
  • In 2018, 6% of students admitted to getting drunk more than once a week 5
  • In 2018, the average amount spent each week by students on alcohol was £12.09 at a bar or nightclub, and £7.34 when purchasing alcohol to consume at home 5
  • In 2017/2018, 48% of students admitted to ‘pre-drinking’ at home before a night out 5
  • The same study found that 48% also stated that they would not deliberately drink to the point of drunkenness before leaving the house 5
  • The most popular drinks amongst students surveyed in 2017/2018 were spirits 5
  • 44% of students who drank one or more times a week in 2017/2018 were drinking at home or in their accommodation 5
  • 76% of university students feel that getting drunk is expected of them, and 79% see it as part of the University culture 5
  • While 70% of students said that they drink in order to fit in with their peers, only 22% stated that they were actively pressured by their university friends 5
  • Overall, the prevalence of drinking in 16-24 year olds fell from 90% in 2002 to 78% in 2016 6

Alcohol Dependence in Students

  • The 2007-2008 survey of 7 UK Universities 4 found that 10% of students were likely to have an alcohol dependence, with an additional 11% classified as harmful drinkers
  • In 2015, 4.6% of students surveyed were found to have ‘high level’ problems with alcohol 7
  • From 2018-2019, 640 16-24 year olds were treated in hospital for alcohol dependence 8
  • In England and Wales in 2018, 4% of men aged between 16 and 24 were found to be drinking more than 50 units of alcohol a week – more than 3 times the recommended limit 9
  • In England and Wales in 2018, 3% of women aged between 16 and 24 were found to be drinking more than 35 units of alcohol a week 9

Alcohol’s Impact on Student Health

  • The Global Burden of Disease study found that alcohol was the leading cause of ill-health among 15-24 year olds 6
  • In 2017/2018, 77% of University students agreed that [QUOTE]“few students worry about how much alcohol will damage their health”[QUOTE] 5
  • 51% of students in 2017/2018 admitted to vomiting after drinking alcohol, and 9% stated that they had drunk to the point of passing out 5
  • Research has found that high-levels of drinking in the first year of university tend to be maintained in later years, greatly increasing students’ risks of alcohol-related harm 10
  • From 2018-2019, more than 35,000 16-24 year olds were admitted to the hospital due to alcohol-related harm 8
  • In 2018, 80 people aged 15-30 died as a direct result of alcohol misuse 11
  • In England and Wales in 2018, 21% of deaths in 16-24 year old males, and 9% of deaths of 16-24 year old females, were attributed to alcohol consumption 12

Alcohol Use in Students Under 18

  • The average age when someone has their first alcoholic drink in the UK is 13.3 13
  • According to one study, Generation Z (born between 1996 and 2010) are less likely to drink than any other age group 14
  • However, the same study found that when Gen Z do drink, they are more likely to binge 14
  • In 2018, 14% of 11 year olds admitted to having ever had an alcoholic drink, compared to 70% of 15 year olds 15
  • Younger students (11-13 years old) were found to drink fewer units in a week than older students (14-15 years) 15
  • The Health Survey for England (HSE) 2017 found that 14% of children aged 8-15 had ever had an alcoholic drink, compared to 45% in the 2003 survey 16
  • In 2014, 7% of pupils aged 10-17 admitted to going to hospital at least once due to alcohol consumption 13
  • In Wales in 2017/2018, 17% of those in year 11 (ages 15-16) drank alcohol at least once a week 17-
  • In England and Wales in 2003, 20% of 11-15 year olds drank alcohol at least once a week; in 2018, that number had fallen to 6% 9
  • 10,990 under-18s were admitted to hospital due to alcohol misuse from 2017 – 2020 18
  • The number of hospital admissions for under-18s due to alcohol-related reasons has been steadily decreasing since 2006 18
  • The number of students in England who were permanently excluded from school due to drugs or alcohol rose from 486 in 2014/2015, to 688 in 2018/2019 19
  • Additionally, in 2018/2019, 11,492 pupils in England were temporarily excluded from school due to drugs or alcohol, up from 8,243 in 2014/2015 19
  • In 2002, 25% of 8-12 year olds stated that they had ever had an alcoholic drink; by 2016, the percentage had fallen to 4% 15























Boris is our editor-in-chief at Rehab 4 Addiction. Boris is an addiction expert with more than 20 years in the field.  His expertise covers a broad of topics relating to addiction, rehab and recovery. Boris is an addiction therapist and assists in the alcohol detox and rehab process. Boris has been featured on a variety of websites, including the BBC, Verywell Mind and Healthline.