Access to quality treatment, free education and elite residential rehab centres for alcoholics across the UK has never been greater. But at the same time, the same can also be said for the country’s growing problem with alcohol abuse and addiction. In terms of why, critics argue that it is impossible to send the right message to the public while ever alcohol remains so comprehensively affordable and accessible. You try to educate the public as to the dangers of alcohol consumption, only to then allow it to be freely promoted and sold for next to nothing.
Which is precisely why one of the only ways of getting the message across is to occasionally revisit a few key facts and statistics. Each year, the General Lifestyle Survey carried out in the UK brings to light a wide range of extraordinary findings – some proving to be considerably more eye-opening than others. It’s no secret that both adults and youth drinking habits leave a lot to be desired, but it isn’t until you see the problem in hard facts and figures that you really get a sense for the scope and depth of the problem.
Take a look at the following examples:
- Excluding those who do not drink any alcohol at all, 53% of women and 52% of men are known to exceed official guidelines with regard to daily and weekly alcohol intake. Women are advised to drink no more than three units per day while men are advised to remain below four units – advice that is clearly not being heeded.
- Once again, excluding individuals who do not drink alcohol at all, around 22% of women and 27% of men admit to drinking more than double the recommended daily intake limit on at least one day during the past week. In total, close to 20% of all adult men admit to drinking heavily on a weekly basis.
- In terms of very heavy drinking – as in drinking at least three times the recommended daily maximum – 12% of women and 14% of men admitted to doing so on a weekly basis. On the whole, around 8% of the total adult population was known to drink at such levels at least once a week.
- Interestingly, research shows that older adults have a tendency to drink on a more frequent basis than those in younger age brackets. In terms of those who consume alcohol every day, 13% of over 65s were found to drink daily, with the figure dropping to 9% in the 44 to 64 age group, 4% in the 25 to 44 age group and just 1% in those aged 16 to 25.
- That being said however, the trend was reversed entirely when it came to drinking heavily and excessively in single drinking sessions. The oldest age group had a binge drinking rate of just 6%, which gradually increased as the age group descended to reach 22% in the 16 to 24 bracket.
- When the most recent survey was carried out, it was found that almost half of all children of school age – aged 11 to 15 – had consumed alcohol on more than one occasion. The study did not however probe any deeper as to the specific circumstances during which the alcohol was consumed or to what extent.
- Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t only older adults that are at risk of premature death due to alcohol consumption. In the average year, more than 300 young adults between the ages of 15 and 34 lose their lives as a direct result of alcohol use and abuse.
- Between 2002 and 2010, the number of hospital admissions entirely attributed to alcohol consumption among the male 15 to 24 age bracket shot up by almost 60%, hitting an incredible high of almost 29,000.
- Things came out even worse for females in the same age bracket, recording an astonishing 76% increase over the same time period to come out at around 27,000 admissions.
- Alcohol is widely regarded as the number one cause of dangerous promiscuity among teenagers and young adults. Research suggests that more than 10% of 15 to 16 year-olds have engaged in sexual activity under the influence of alcohol and later regretted it. In addition, around one in every nine teenagers of the same age has engaged in unsafe sexual activity after consuming alcohol.
- On a slightly more positive note, the number of 11 to 15 year-olds trick in alcohol on a regular basis had fallen to just 12% in 2011 – a huge decrease from the 26% recorded in 2001.