Alcohol Awareness Week

14 – 20 November 2016

What’s the theme?

In January 2016, the guidance around recommended limits of alcohol was updated by the CMO. The new guidance states that the limits for both men and women are the same – which is to not drink more than 14 units a week, and spreading these units evenly over 3 or more days.

The theme of Alcohol Awareness Week 2016 will look focus on alcohol and health, and knowing the risks associated with alcohol.

Monday 14th November – Alcohol and cancer

Tuesday 15th November – Alcohol and depression

Wednesday 16th November – Alcohol and dementia

Thursday 17th November – Alcohol and breast cancer

Friday 18th November – Alcohol and diabetes

Saturday 19th November  – Alcohol and hypertension

Sunday 20th November – Alcohol and brain damage

Download your guide to Alcohol Awareness Week 2016 here.

Infographics are also available for you to use – download them here. 


Alcohol statistics

Alcohol statistics 

  • More than 9 million people in England drink more than the recommended daily limits
  • In the UK, in 2014 there were 8,697 alcohol-related deaths
  • Alcohol is 10% of the UK burden of disease and death, making alcohol one of the three biggest lifestyle risk factors for disease and death in the UK, after smoking and obesity
  • An estimated 7.5 million people are unaware of the damage their drinking could be causing
  • Alcohol related harm costs England around £21bn per year, with £3.5bn to the NHS, £11bn tackling alcohol-related crime and £7.3bn from lost work days and productivity costs
  • A minimum unit price is one of the most effective strategies of reducing alcohol-related harm. Selling alcohol for no less than 50p a unit would tackle health inequalities, reduce alcohol related crime, hospital admissions, lost productivity days and save lives.
  • Alcohol was 61% more affordable in 2013 than it was in 1980

Alcohol and Health

  • Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including: mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers; high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver; and depression
  • In the UK in 2012-13, there were 1,008,850 hospital admissions related to alcohol consumption where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary reason for hospital admission or a secondary diagnosis
  • However, if you include deaths where alcohol was a contributing factor (such as various cancers, falls and hypertensive diseases), the figure increases to 21,512: 13,971 for males and 7,541 for females
  • Males accounted for approximately 65% of all alcohol-related deaths in the UK in 2014
  • Alcohol now costs the NHS £3.5bn per year; equal to £120 for every tax payer
  • The alcohol-related mortality rate of men in the most disadvantaged socio-economic class is 3.5 times higher than for men in the least disadvantaged class, while for women the figure is 5.7 times higher
  • In England and Wales, 63% of all alcohol-related deaths in 2012 were caused by alcoholic liver disease
  • Liver disease is one of the few major causes of premature mortality that is increasing
  • Deaths from liver disease have reached record levels, rising by 20% in a decade
  • The number of older people between the ages of 60 and 74 admitted to hospitals in England with mental and behavioural disorders associated with alcohol use has risen by over 150% in the past ten years, while the figure for 15-59 years old has increased by 94%


  • The NHS estimates that around 9% of adult men in the UK and 4% of UK adult women show signs of alcohol dependence
  • Only 1% of dependent drinkers access treatment in the UK
  • The overall number of people in treatment in 2013-14 increased by 5% (5,237) from 109,863 in 2012-13
  • In 2012, 178,247 prescriptions for drugs to treat alcohol dependency were prescribed
  • Approximately 42% of clients starting treatment were self-referrals and 17% were referrals from general practitioners (GPs). Onward referrals from other substance misuse services accounted for 7%
  • 80,929 people started new alcohol treatment in England in 2013-2014
  • 59% of those exiting treatment in 2012-13 were no longer dependent on alcohol (had completed treatment successfully). A further 5,914 (8%) were transferred for further treatment within the community, while 1027 (1%) were transferred into appropriate treatment while in custody
  • For every £1 invested in specialist alcohol treatment, £5 is saved on health, welfare and crime costs


  • Alcohol-related crime in the UK is estimated to cost between £8bn and £13bn per year
  • A fifth (29%) of all violent incidents in 2013–14 took place in or around a pub or club. This rises to 42% for stranger violence. Over two thirds (68%) of violent offences occur in the evening or at night
  • There were 8,270 casualties of drink driving accidents in the UK in 2013, including 240 fatalities and 1,100 people who suffered serious injury
  • Victims believed the offender(s) to be under the influence of alcohol in over half (53%) of all violent incidents, or 704,000 offences
  • Male and female prisoners who reported drinking daily drank an average of 20 units per day

Drinking Behaviour

  • 16% of men and 9% of women drank alcohol on at least five of the preceding seven days basis
  • 34% of men and 28% of women drank more than recommended (4 units for men, 3 units for women) on at least one day in the last week.
  • Excluding those who didn’t drink at all in the last week, the figure rises to 52% of men and 53% of women
  • 18% of men and 12% of women drank heavily (at least twice the recommended limits) on at least one day in the last week. Excluding those who didn’t drink at all in the last week, the figure rises to 27% for men and 22% for women
  • 9% of men and 6% of women drank very heavily (at least three times the recommended limits) on at least one day in the last wee Excluding those who didn’t drink at all in the last week, the figure rises to 14% for men and 12% for women
  • Adults living in households in the highest income quintile are more than twice as likely to drink heavily as adults in the lowest income quintile – 22% compared to 10%
  • Elder people tend to drink more frequently than younger peopl The proportion of adults who drank every day increased with each group – just 1% of 16-25 year olds had drunk every day during the previous week, 4% of 25-44’s, 9% of 25-64’s and 13% of 65+.
  • Younger people tend to drink more heavily (exceeding 8 units for men and 6 units for women) on a single occasion than older peopl 6% of men aged 65 and over had drunk heavily on at least one day in the previous week, compared with 19% of men aged 45-64
  • 24% of men aged 24-44 and 22% of men aged 16-24. Among women that corresponding age groups were 2%, 12%, 16% and 18%.

The above statistics on drinking behaviour are all taken from the General Lifestyle Survey, 2011 and relate to Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland). There has been a decline in reported alcohol consumption since its peak in 2005. However, this has been from a very high level that had been going up over many years. Chronic health harms from alcohol are a result of drinking over a number of years, so whilst reported consumption has been going down, this hasn’t translated into a reduction of health harms. Survey measures of drinking behaviour are generally acknowledged to underestimate consumption. Comparisons of the survey data with HM Revenue & Customs data suggest that survey estimates of consumption represent between 40% and 60% of the true figure.33

Young People

  • In 2012, 43 per cent of school pupils (aged 11-15) said that they had drunk alcohol at least once
  • 193 males and 121 females between 15 and 34 years of age died from alcohol-related causes in 2011 in the UK
  • The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions of 15 to 24 year-old male patients increased by 57%, from 18,265 to 28,747 from 2002 to 2010
  • The number of hospital admissions of 15 to 24 year-old female patients increased at faster rate [76%], from 15,233 in 2002 to 26,908 in 2010
  • In a sample of over 2000 15-16-year-olds from the UK, 11% had had sex under the influence of alcohol and regretted it
  • Almost one in ten boys and around one in eight girls aged 15 to 16 have unsafe sex after drinking alcohol
  • Every year in the UK, more than 10,000 fines for being drunk and disorderly are issued to young people aged 16 to 19
  • Almost half of young people excluded from school in the UK are regular drinkers
  • Just 8% of 11 to 15-year olds said they had drunk alcohol in the previous week in 2011

To download the statistics please click here.

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