Only one in five know alcohol guidelines

Just 18 per cent of adults know the government’s low-risk drinking guidelines, according to research by industry-funded charity Drinkaware.

While 87 per cent had heard of the guidelines, only 18 per cent knew that they were 14 units a week for men and women. The results are based on a survey of more than 6,300 people for this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs from 3 to 9 July.

Karen Tyrell: ‘We all need to be able to talk more openly about alcohol.’

People aged over 55 were the most knowledgeable about the guidelines, with 22 per cent knowing about the 14-unit recommended limit. Younger people were less aware, however, with just 11 per cent of those in the 18-34 age bracket knowing the guideline limit, along with 20 per cent of 35 to 54-year-olds. More women (22 per cent) were aware of the limits than men (15 per cent), while the most aware nation was Scotland at 22 per cent, compared to a UK-wide average of 18 per cent.

‘It is worrying that the vast majority of people still don’t know what the low-risk drinking guidelines are, despite them being around since 2016,’ said Drinkaware CEO Karen Tyrell. ‘Alcohol Awareness Week is a chance to help people understand them and how they can be used to reduce the risk of serious health problems. If anyone is worried about their drinking or wants to drink less, Alcohol Awareness Week is a good time to talk to your friends and family. We all need to be able to talk more openly about alcohol so we can tackle the harm it does.’

Dr Richard Piper: ‘It is a mistake to treat alcohol as if it is important to life.’

The theme of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week is ‘Alcohol and cost’, with the average drinker spending almost £63,000 on alcohol over the course of their lifetime, according to Alcohol Change UK. A fifth of drinkers also consider alcohol to be an ‘essential’ grocery item – this rose to almost 40 per cent of people drinking at ‘increasing risk’ levels, and 65 per cent of those considered at high risk.

Alcohol is a product that comes with a ‘huge range of personal, societal and economic’ costs that ‘massively outweigh’ its ‘limited, short-term benefits’, said Alcohol Change UK chief executive Dr Richard Piper. ‘It is a mistake to treat alcohol as though it is important or even essential to life, culture, or society.’

For more on Alcohol Awareness Week visit


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