Rehab 4 Addiction

Alcohol use is widespread in the UK. In this post we list the most recent statistics about the consumption of alcohol in the UK, and how this relates to topics such as health, crime, rehab treatment, adolescents, and drinking habits.

Alcohol consumption in the UK: miscellaneous statistics

  • Alcohol has become 74% more affordable in the UK since 1987. While the price of alcohol has gone up, it has done so at a slower rate than retail prices. [1]
  • The average household spent £8.70 on alcohol in 2017/18. [1]
  • The total alcohol duty receipts for 2020/21 was £10,626 million, which represents a 1% increase compared to 2019/20. [2]
  • There were an estimated 602,391 alcohol-dependent individuals in 2018/19, or 1.37% of the UK population. [3]
  • 52% of people in the UK think that the NHS should not fund the long-term care of people who drink to excess. [8]
  • As of 2017, between 230 and 270 people were killed in drink-driving accidents in the UK. This represents around 14% of total deaths. [1]

Drinking habits

  • There has been a decline in the proportion of men drinking more than 8 units a day, from 24% in 2006 to 19% in 2018. [1]
  • There has also been a decline in women drinking more than 8 units a day, from 16% in 2006 to 12% in 2018. [1]
  • 17% of individuals regularly binge-drink in England. [8]
  • 21% of men in London do not consume alcohol (i.e. are teetotal), the highest figure in the UK. [8]
  • 30% of young adults ‘drink to get drunk’ in the UK. [8]
  • According to one survey, 21% of people drink 2 to 3 times a week. 8% drink 6 or more times a week, and 12% never drink at all. [10]

Drinking among children and adolescents

  • In 2018, 9% of children aged 11-15 had drunk alcohol in the last week, a figure which has remained relatively stable since 2013. [7]
  • Numbers of adolescent drinkers are going down, but by the age of 17, half of all girls and almost two-thirds of boys report drinking alcohol every week. [4]
  • Risk-taking behaviour in general is on the decline, with fewer young people drinking, taking drugs and smoking than the previous generation. [4]
  • Levels of alcohol abuse among adolescents in the UK are still higher than the European average. [4]
  • Adolescents of a White background are much more likely to drink alcohol than those of a Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background. [4]
  • Young people in the least deprived areas are more likely to drink, and drink regularly, at the age of 15. [4]
  • Hospital admissions for alcohol are going down among the under-18 group. [4]
  • Following a peak in 2008/9, the numbers of young people accessing specialist alcohol treatment is on the decline. [4]

Deaths and health problems caused by drinking

  • In the first nine months of 2020, deaths from alcohol in the UK and Wales hit record levels. There were 5460 deaths related to alcohol specific causes between January and September of 2020. Three quarters of these deaths were caused by alcoholic liver disease. [6]
  • 5,698 deaths were specifically caused by alcohol in 2018. This is slightly lower than 2017 (by 2%), but higher than 2008 (by 7%). [1]
  • In 2018, 358,000 people were admitted to hospital due to health problems that were principally caused by alcohol. This figure is 6% higher than in 2017/18, and 19% higher than 2008/09. [1]
  • More men were admitted to hospital for alcohol-related problems, representing 62% of those admitted. [1]
  • The most common cause of alcohol-specific death was alcohol-related liver disease, which accounted for 79% of the 5,698 alcohol-specific deaths recorded in 2018. Another 1,920 deaths were due to unspecified hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver, although these are not counted as ‘alcohol-specific’ in the statistics. [1]

Drinking by demographic

  • The age group most at risk of drinking to excess was people between the ages of 55 and 64. This age bracket had the highest numbers of people drinking more than 14 units a week. It also had the highest number of people admitted to hospital for alcohol-related health problems, with around 70,000 in 2018. [1]
  • Alcohol-specific deaths were most common among those aged 50-59, with roughly 1570 in 2018. [1]
  • Men were more likely to die for alcohol-specific reasons in 2018, representing 67% of deaths. [1]
  • According to another survey, men aged 65-74 drank the most alcohol by units of any group, with 20.9 units consumed per week (in 2019). Women aged 75 and over drank the least, with 5.7 units per week, closely followed by women aged 16-24, who consumed 7.1 units per week. [9]

Drinking by area/country

  • Stoke-on-Trent had the highest rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions, with 1,130 per 100,000 of the population. East Sussex had the lowest, at 320. [1]
  • Accounting for age, alcohol-specific death rates are higher in the North than the South, with the North East having the highest death rate of any region. [1]
  • A mean average of 15 units of alcohol are consumed per week among Scottish men. [8]

Alcohol and mental health

  • A quarter of the estimated 589,000 people who are alcohol-dependent are likely to be receiving mental health medication. [5]
  • 10% of all suicide deaths which occurred in the UK between 2007 and 2017 involved people who had a history of alcohol problems and were also in touch with specialist mental health services, making this an at-risk population. [5]
  • Of the 72,000 people in alcohol treatment in 2017/18, more than half said they needed help with their mental health, and four in five were getting some support. [5]














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.