Alcohol abuse is one of the main social problems in the UK nowadays. The seriousness of the problem may be understood from the following statistics. British people spend £15 billion a year on purchases of alcoholic drinks. Thus, it corresponds to 18% of their total expenditures on food and drinks (HMRC 2010). Thus, a large percentage of their income is spent on alcohol consumption. Moreover, around more than 10 million adults drink more alcohol than the generally accepted daily limit. More than 2.5 million people drink more than twice in relation to the accepted daily limit (The State of the Nation 2013).
It seems that educational and information campaign is necessary in this respect. Moreover, it should be stressed that not all drinking people are identical. There are three main types of drinking behaviour. They include dependent, harmful, and hazardous drinkers. Dependent drinkers have lost some fraction of control regarding their alcohol consumption. They have difficult symptoms and may be severely dependent on alcohol. There are more than 1.5 million dependent drinkers in the UK, and their number tends to increase by more than 20% during the last decade. The consumption of alcohol by harmful drinkers is typically above the accepted level. Furthermore, harmful drinkers demonstrate evidences of a number of alcohol-related problems. There are almost 3 million of harmful drinkers in the UK, and their number tends to increase by 5% among men and 7% among women during the last decade. Hazardous drinkers are those people who typically drink more than the safe drinking level. There are more than 7.5 million drinkers of this type in the UK, and their number also tends to increase by 4% among men and 9% among women during the last decade (The State of the Nation 2013). Thus, every type of drinking behaviour should be treated and influenced in a different way.
People should understand the effects of alcohol drinking on their health. Long-term alcohol over-consumption may lead to a large variety of health problems including kidney and liver disease, depression, high blood pressure, stroke, chronic and acute pancreatitis, and even cancer (The State of the Nation 2013). Therefore, alcohol is generally recognized as the second largest risk factor to cancer after smoking. There are more alcohol-related deaths among men than among women. However, almost all the tendencies regarding alcohol consumption in the UK are negative. Drink driving has also become more widespread during the last decade. The awareness of these possible effects is supposed to diminish the consumption of alcohol in the near future.
Almost 50% of 11-15 year old children have ever had an alcoholic drink (The State of the Nation 2013). Thus, the problem in relation to drinking among young men is also significant. The main current tendencies may be summarized as follows (Smith & Foxroft 2009):
- A little current decrease in drinking among 16 to 24 year old people;
- Higher level of drinking among very young adolescents;
- Higher level of drinking among older and middle age groups;
- Higher level of drinking among women;
- Higher level of drinking in Northern Ireland compared with the average figures in the UK.
Thus, only the tendency regarding the level of drinking among 16 to 24 year old people is positive. All the rest tendencies are negative.
It seems that the prohibition of alcohol or administrative methods will not lead to any positive results as the price elasticity regarding alcohol drinks is negative (HMRC 2010). Therefore, the main way of solving this problem consists of efficient informational campaign about the long-term effects of alcohol drinking and the key groups of risk in the UK.
HMRC 2010, Econometric analysis of alcohol consumption in the UK, viewed 29 October 2013.
Smith, L, & Foxcroft D 2009, Drinking in the UK: an exploration of trends, viewed 29 October 2013.
The State of the Nation 2013, Facts and figures on England and alcohol, viewed 29 October 2013.