Drinkers in the UK get drunk more often than anywhere else in the world, findings from a global survey suggests. Researchers based in London surveyed 5,400 people from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and more than 120,000 globally between October 29 and December 30 last year. It is the eighth annual report and claims to be the largest drug survey in the world.
Britons reported getting drunk an average of 51.1 times in a 12-month period – almost once a week, the 2019 report featuring 36 countries found.
Adam Winstock, an addiction psychiatrist and founder of the Global Drug Survey, said British respondents are drinking too much, too often, regarding getting drunk as the point of a night out as opposed to enhancing the evening.
“We have never grasped moderation. It’s not part of our culture or conversation,” he said. “We need to learn that more fun with better health and fatter wallets can follow from a bit less, a bit less often.”
And drinkers around the world should consider cutting down to benefit their health, Winstock said.
“Deaths due to alcoholic liver disease and cancer due to excessive alcohol consumption are on the rise, along with obesity and poorer mental health,” he said. “Drinking too much makes all these worse; drinking less make them better.”
The results in the survey reflect the number of times that survey respondents said they got drunk, rather than the amount of alcohol consumed.
Those from English-speaking countries got drunk most often, according to the report, while participants from South American countries got drunk on the lowest number of occasions.
UK respondents said they got drunk 51 times in the past year, compared with 50 times for people in the United States, 48 in Canada and 47 in Australia. Chilean respondents, on the other hand, reported getting drunk just 16 times a year and Colombians 22 times.
About 38% of survey participants said they wanted to drink less in the next year.
The Global Drug Survey has made an app, The Drinks Meter, to help people keep an eye on how much they are drinking, as well as publishing guidelines for safer drug use at saferuselimits.co.
Prof Winstock said: ‘We get told too much is bad, and it is, but current guidelines fail to accept the pleasure of intoxication and give little guide on difference between being a little drunk and a lot drunk, and doing it 3-4 times a year versus weekly. We need to have that conversation. ‘In the UK we don’t tend to do moderation, we end up getting drunk as the point of the evening.
‘Until culture changes and we become more European and moderate in our drinking, we might have to bite the bullet and think about how to advise people to get drunk drinking less. ‘Getting drunk carries risks of injury and health harm, but we need to start highlighting the risks at different levels of drinking even if they are above safe limits.’