Alcohol statistics UK

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The UK’s relationship with alcohol is changing, with the latest data suggesting that younger generations are drinking less.

Drawing on data from government offices, charities and research in the field, we have compiled key facts and statistics about alcohol consumption, drinking habits, alcohol use disorder, and its impact on public health.

Key alcohol statistics

  • In England, there are an estimated 602,391 dependent drinkers [1]
  • In total, there were 107,428 adults in treatment for alcohol addiction (some with other substance use issues) in 2019/20 [1]
  • Worldwide, 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol. This represents 5.3% of all deaths [2]
  • 24% of adults in England and Scotland regularly drink over the chief medical officer’s low-risk guidelines [3]
  • 60% of people in alcohol addiction treatment also need mental health treatment [1]

Alcohol consumption

  • In England in 2018, 82% of adults drank alcohol in the past 12 months, with 49% of adults drinking at least once a week [4]
  • In England, 40% of adults drink over 14 units per week [4]
  • In 2017, on their heaviest drinking day, 28.7% of men and 25.6% of women binged alcohol [3]
  • 57% of adults (aged 16+) drink up to 14 units of alcohol per week and 23% drink more than 14 units [5]
  • 48% of adults (aged 16+) drink alcohol at least once a week [5]

Alcohol and health

  • In 2020, there were 8,974 deaths (14 per 100,000 people) from alcohol-specific causes registered in the UK, an 18.6% increase compared with 2019 (7,565 deaths; 11.8 per 100,000 people) and the highest year-on-year increase since the data time series began in 2001 [6]
  • Between 2012 and 2019, rates of alcohol-specific deaths in the UK have remained stable, but a statistically significant increase was seen in 2020 [6]
  • The harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions [3]
  • In England in 2019/20, there were 976,425 hospital admissions related to alcohol consumption, a rate 12% higher than in 2016/17 [7]
  • In the UK in 2019, 77% of alcohol-specific deaths were caused by alcoholic liver disease [8]

Alcohol statistics by demographic


  • 60% of people in alcohol addiction treatment are male [1]
  • In England, in 2019/20, females represented 40% of those in treatment, although only 23% of females in the population have problematic alcohol use [1]
  • 30% of men drink more than the recommended weekly alcohol limit (14 units of alcohol) per week compared to 15% of women [5]
  • The percentage of alcohol-attributable deaths among men amounts to 7.7% of all global deaths compared to 2.6% of all deaths among women [2]
  • Total alcohol per capita consumption in 2016 among male and female drinkers worldwide was on average 19.4 litres of pure alcohol for males and 7 litres for females [2]


  • The average age for people in alcohol treatment is 46 [1]
  • 9,374 people in alcohol-only treatment are aged 60 years and over (12% of the total) [1]
  • In 2020, two fifths (40%) of 16 to 24 year olds reported drinking alcohol in the previous week, making them the least likely to consume alcohol. The highest were 45 to 64 year olds at 60% [9]
  • In 2017, young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 were more likely to 'binge' on alcohol on their heaviest drinking day [3]
  • In 2018, 10% of children aged 11 to 14 in England reported having drunk alcohol in the last week [9]

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