Swanswell says alcohol consumption study should be a wake-up call

27 February 2013

A study suggesting the amount of alcohol consumed in England could be much higher than previously thought should be a wake-up call to society, says Swanswell.

The national charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to news from researchers at University College London, who compared alcohol sales figures with surveys of what people said they drank.

Their findings showed a significant gap with almost half of the alcohol sold unaccounted for in consumption figures given by drinkers, suggesting around three-quarters may be drinking above recommended daily limits (reports BBC News).

According to the researchers, 19% more men and 26% more women than previously thought were regularly drinking more than the government’s guideline daily limits of 2-3 units for women and 3-4 units for men.

Chris Robinson, Swanswell’s Director of Services, said: ‘Although it’s not surprising that more people are regularly drinking above the government’s recommended limits, it should act as a wake-up call to everyone.

The results are a prime example of just how easy it is to cross the line from responsible drinking to problem drinking, especially if people don’t actually know how much they’re having or are truthful about their drinking levels.

It doesn’t help that the way people calculate how much they’re drinking in units is quite complicated, especially if they’ve had a few alcoholic drinks in the meantime.

So we need the government and health officials to come up with a simpler, more effective way of helping people understand how much alcohol they’ve consumed – ‘clunk, clink every trip worked’ with seatbelts, so why not something like ‘one or two, once or twice’, one or two drinks, once or twice a week, for alcohol use.

Most importantly, there’s a need for clearer information and better education about the harm alcohol causes because today’s research suggests what’s in place today simply isn’t working.’

If you're worried about your alcohol use or want more information, take a look at our alcohol information pages.

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