04 April 2023

Cost of living pressures placing UK adults at greater risk of alcohol dependence

Research@2X (2)

Alcohol consumption habits of people in the UK have changed due to the cost of living crisis, according to research commissioned by drug, alcohol and mental health charity WithYou. A survey of over 2,000 adults across the UK carried out by polling company Markettiers, finds nearly half (47%) of UK adults are prioritising drinking alcohol at home instead of at pubs, bars and restaurants due to the cost of living crisis.

Over half (56%) of UK adults are now buying more alcohol from supermarkets and nearly a quarter of UK adults (23%) have recently tried cheaper alcohol brands. A quarter of respondents (25%) agree the most important factor now when buying alcohol is having a low cost. Whilst cheaper alcohol brands often have a higher alcohol content, close to half (46%) of adults say they are unaware of this fact.

Stephen McCulloch, Executive Director at WithYou says:

“When you’re buying alcohol from the shops, it can be tempting to buy in bulk. But this makes it easy to drink more than you plan to. You may end up consuming a higher quantity of alcohol over a shorter amount of time. People are also prioritising buying cheaper alcohol, which often contains a higher alcohol content without realising.

“With more people drinking out of sight at home, we are concerned this could lead to unhealthy relationships with alcohol, particularly using alcohol to cope with the mental health pressures related to the rising cost of living.”

Poor mental health related to the cost of living crisis could increase alcohol consumption, as the polling finds over a third of UK adults (38%) agree they drink more alcohol when they feel anxious and just under two fifths of respondents (39%) agree they drink more alcohol when they feel depressed or sad.

Over one tenth (12%) of the public who buy alcohol say they are currently prioritising spending money on alcohol instead of essential gas and electric bills. Other essential items adults have recently prioritised purchasing alcohol over are food (14%) and clothing (10%).

The polling finds that people with issues related to alcohol consumption are unlikely to come forward for treatment. A third of respondents (33%) from the polling agree that if they were worried about their alcohol consumption being too high they would prefer not to seek any kind of support.

Stephen says:

“While many people would not feel comfortable talking to anyone if they were worried about their alcohol consumption, it’s vital people understand there is support available. If you or someone you know needs support for issues with alcohol, you can speak to a trained advisor for free, confidentially and without judgement via our webchat service at: Wearewithyou.org.uk

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