High earners more likely to drink alcohol, new statistics show
The findings of a survey of drinking habits in England published yesterday show 79 per cent of adults earning £40,000 or more a year drank alcohol in the previous week in 2017, compared to 58 per cent of all adults.
The percentage of adults consuming alcohol in the previous week was 47 per cent for those earning up to £9,999 a year, according to two new reports – Adult Drinking Habits in Great Britain: 20172 (Office for National Statistics) and Statistics on Alcohol, England 2018 (NHS Digital).
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey is carried out throughout the year with the questions asking respondents about drinking behaviour the week before taking part.
The percentage of all adults reporting having drunk alcohol in the past week has not changed significantly from the previous year – 57 per cent in 2016 – but has fallen from a decade ago when 65 per cent of all adults reported having drunk alcohol in the past week in 2007.
The NHS Digital compendium report includes this new survey information as well as previously published information from several sources to provide a detailed insight into behaviours and attitudes towards drinking among adults and children. Insights include:
- During 2016/17 there were an estimated 337,000 hospital admissions primarily due to alcohol consumption. This is based on the narrow measure3 where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary reason for a hospital admission or there was an alcohol-related external cause. The number has dropped by 1 per cent compared to 2015/16 when there were 339,000 admissions primarily due to alcohol consumption.
- During 2016/17, 39 per cent of alcohol-related hospital admissions were for patients aged between 45 and 64.
- Those aged 55 to 64 were the most likely to be drinking at higher or increasing risk levels in 2016. Younger and older adults were the most likely to be non-drinkers - 25 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds and 27 per cent of those aged 75 and over did not drink alcohol.4
- In 2016, 44 per cent of pupils aged 11 to 15 said they had ever drunk an alcoholic drink. Data prior to that year is not comparable due to a change in the survey questions.5
- There were 5,507 alcohol-specific deaths6 in England in 2016, a 4 per cent increase from 2015 and an increase of 11 per cent on 2006.
- It is estimated there were 240 road deaths in Great Britain in 2016 where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit. This is 13 per cent of all deaths in reported road accidents.7
- The most prescription items for drugs used to treat alcohol dependence were dispensed in the North region - 486 per 100,000 population. The fewest, 189 per 100,000 population, were dispensed in London8.
Other new information in the report includes further analyses on affordability of alcohol using already published ONS data and details of the cost of alcohol-related prescriptions from NHS Digital.
Read the full reports
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Notes to editors
- NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. During the 2017/18 financial year, NHS Digital published 275 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.
- The main source of data for drinking behaviours among adults is the Adult Drinking Habits: 2017 published by the Office for National Statistics. This is based on the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) which is an annual survey covering adults aged 16 and over living in private households in Great Britain. The survey is carried out throughout the year with the questions asking about drinking behaviour in the week before taking part.
- Estimates of the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions have been calculated by applying alcohol-attributable fractions (AAFs) based on a methodology developed by the North West Public Health Observatory (now part of Public Health England). This is the narrow measure - where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary reason for a hospital admission or there was an alcohol-related external cause. The narrow measure is a better indicator of changes over time because it is less affected by improvements in recording of secondary diagnoses.
- The source for this data is Health Survey for England, 2016.
- The source for this data is Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People, 2017.
- Alcohol-specific deaths are published by the Office for National Statistics which uses the new National Statistics (NS) definition of alcohol-specific deaths. This definition only includes conditions where each death is a direct consequence of alcohol misuse. It is primarily based on chronic (longer-term) conditions associated with continued misuse of alcohol and, to a lesser extent, acute (immediate) conditions. Public Health England (PHE) produces estimates for both alcohol-specific and alcohol-related deaths at local authority level. Alcohol-related estimates, which include partially attributable deaths, are higher than the ONS figures for alcohol-specific deaths. More information on the impact of the new definition is available on the ONS website.
- This is a provisional figure for 2016. The final figure is expected to be between 200 and 280.
- The two main drugs prescribed for the treatment of alcohol dependence are Acamprosate Calcium (Campral) and Disulifiram (Antabuse). A new drug Nalmefene (Selincro) is not included in these figures because it is also used to treat drug dependence as well as alcohol dependence. A prescription item refers to a single item on a prescription form. If a prescription form includes three medicines, they are counted as three prescription items.
- This report also includes the latest information from already published sources which include:
- Alcohol-related hospital admissions published by Public Health England (PHE) in their Local Alcohol Profiles for England (LAPE) which uses data from NHS Digital’s Hospital Episodes Statistics. (HES)
- Alcohol-specific deaths published by ONS.
- Health Survey for England (HSE).
- Road casualties involving illegal alcohol levels published by the Department for Transport.
- Family Food report from the Living Costs and Food Survey. (LCFS).
- Smoking, Drinking and Drug use among Young People in England (SDD) which surveys pupils in secondary schools across England to provide national estimates and information on the smoking, drinking and drug use behaviours of young people aged 11 - 15.
- Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) contains details of all admissions to NHS hospitals in England. It includes private patients treated in NHS hospitals, patients who were resident outside of England and care delivered by treatment centres (including those in the independent sector) funded by the NHS. The HES data presented in this report are for inpatients only, so do not reflect all hospital activity. This should be considered when interpreting the data as practice may vary over time and between regions. In particular, practices vary between hospitals as to whether some procedures are carried out or recorded in outpatient or inpatient settings and any changes in recording and clinical practice can affect the trends in this report.
- Figures over 1 million have been rounded to the nearest 10,000 and those over 100,000 have been rounded to the nearest 1,000. Figures under 10,000 have been rounded to the nearest 10. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.
- For media enquiries please contact email@example.com or telephone 0300 30 33 888.
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