The True Cost of Alcohol to the UK

Most of us like a drink and almost all of us manage to enjoy the odd tipple without ending up in hospital, in jail or alienated from our friends and family.

There are, however, some among us who aren’t so fortunate and for these people, having a drink comes with a heavy cost – to themselves and to the country. Here are some sobering statistics about the downside of alcohol in the UK.

Excessive consumption

Around nine million people in England drink more than the recommended weekly limit of 14 units of alcohol. UK-wide, alcohol contributes to almost 9,000 extra deaths and it also makes up 10% of the country’s disease and death burden, putting it on a par with smoking and obesity.

In England, the financial cost of alcohol-related car & road taffic accidents , crimes and disease costs £21 billion a year, with the NHS spending £3.5 billion of this.

One solution

Imposing a minimum price per unit of 50p would help to reduce health problems, hospital admissions and crime, as well as lost work days.

Long-term health

Alcohol is implicated in more than 60 medical conditions, including high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver, several types of cancer, and depression.

In England and Wales, 63% of all alcohol-related deaths (2012) were caused by liver disease and this is among a handful of premature death-causing diseases that are actually rising. Deaths from liver disease have increased by 20% in a decade.

drink and drive

Alcohol-related crime

Alcohol-related crime costs the UK between £8 billion and £13 billion a year, with more than two thirds of reported violent incidents happening at night. In 2013, there were 8,270 people involved in drink driving accidents, with 240 deaths and 1,100 life-changing injuries. While the lawyers at companies like can sometimes help to mitigate the legal consequences of drink driving or prevent convictions completely, it is something that should be avoided at all costs.

Alcohol dependence

According to an NHS estimate, around 9% of male adults in the UK show some signs of alcohol dependence; for women the figure is 4%. However, only 1% of alcohol-dependent people seek help.

Almost 81,000 people started treatment for alcohol in England in 2014-14 and treatments are around 60% successful. For every £1 spent on specialist treatment, £5 is saved on crime, welfare and health.

Surprising facts about alcohol consumption

Adults in higher-income households are more than twice as likely to drink heavily than adults in lower-income households – 22% compared to 10%.

Older people drink much more frequently than younger age groups – just 4% of 25-44 year olds drank every day compared to 13% of the 65+ group. However, younger people tend to drink more heavily on any single occasion than older people.

Very young people drink too, with 43% schoolchildren aged between 11 and 15 reporting (2012) that they’d drunk alcohol at least once. Sadly 193 males and 121 females aged between 15 and 32 died from alcohol-related causes in 2011.

While drinking can be fun, it’s always best to drink responsibly so that these statistics can improve year on year.

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